Madrid-born, Amsterdam-based pianist Adrián Moncada's thrilling Inhabitable Imagination is a tour-de-force of a debut. The music consists of seven Moncada originals which draw inspiration from architecture. Thus it is taut, angular and has a creative momentum which does not slack. Moncada leads a sextet of other expat musicians all of whom share his creative vision, making this release even more engaging.
Opening with the "The Bearable Heaviness of Being," a wordplay on Czech writer Milan Kundera's famous novel, the band immediately sets the album's dramatic ambience. Moncada's introspective, unaccompanied lines usher in the collective passionate refrains. English trumpeter Alistair Payne rises out of this simmering performance with a fiery, wailing solo which is simultaneously organic and ethereal. The tune closes hauntingly as Moncada and his sidemen converse with dynamic lyricism.
Similarly, the title track has a cinematic mood and forms the cornerstone of the recording. Moncada's chiming keys alternate with the front line's vamps on the intro, followed by Portuguese saxophonist José Soares, who plays contemplative melodic fragments. These then evolve into a moving and sinewy improvisation. Greek drummer Nick Thessalonikefs drives the piece with his dark, thunderous beats, echoing Moncada's percussive chords. The crescendo- decrescendo phrases from the horns, together with the rhythm trio's rumbling cadence, make this a breathtakingly complex and elegant piece. Adding a mystical layer to it are Brazilian bassist Pedro Ivo Ferreira's expressive arco work, and Italian clarinetist Federico Calcagno delightfully dissonant finale.
Soares' warm, meandering saxophone starts off the equally crystalline "Platforming." Payne follows with his stimulating soliloquy which is peppered with jagged notes and subtle reverberations. Moncada leads the group in creating soaring, dynamic musical structures which are emotionally raw and intelligent. He then deftly embellishes the main theme with vibrant grace. The ensemble's riotous repartee coalesces around Calcagno's incandescent tones only to ebb into a serenely evocative conclusion.
Impressive in its depth and breath, Inhabitable Imagination is an apt paean to the mother of all arts. It showcases Moncada's brilliance as a composer, band leader and performer. This recording is a poignant start to what promises to be a unique and brilliant career.
The Bearable Heaviness of Being; Emerging Structure; Platforming; Shadow of Tomorrow; NGC
6357; Inhabitable Imagination; Stretch-Stretch yourself
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