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Album Review

Aruán Ortiz with Andrew Cyrille and Mauricio Herrera: Inside Rhythmic Falls


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Aruán Ortiz with Andrew Cyrille and Mauricio Herrera: Inside Rhythmic Falls
Cuban-born pianist and composer Aruán Ortiz is constantly evolving, experimenting and injecting new elements into his craft. Inside Rhythmic Falls is his third trio album, each with impressive but different lineups. His previous trio release, Live In Zürich (Intakt Records, 2018), with bassist Brad Jones and Chicago Underground mainstay Chad Taylor on drums and mbira, saw Ortiz mixing his original compositions with the likes of Ornette Coleman and Chopin. Inside Rhythmic Falls takes yet another turn.

Drummer Andrew Cyrille is the descendant of Haitians, less than two-hundred miles from eastern Cuba; the two countries share significant cultural elements. Cyrille has played with several other ground-breaking pianists including Irene Schweizer, Horace Tapscott, Borah Bergman, Geri Allen and Cecil Taylor. Cyrille has also traveled the road of personal heritage with his Andrew Cyrille & Haitian Fascination: Route De Frères (TUM Records, 2011). The trio rounds out with another Cuban, the percussionist, Mauricio Herrera, who most recently appeared on David Virelles' Gnosis (ECM, 2017).

Ortiz was born and raised in the Oriente Province in the southeast of Cuba. His memories of that life play out here over ten pieces, nine of them originals. Ortiz sees himself as the chronicler of the daily events he experienced growing into adulthood in his home city of Santiago de Cuba. For all the region's history of political upheaval and economic strife, Ortiz is intent on giving the listener an impressionistic cultural picture of the people and traditions.

The powerful opener "Lucero Mundo" is an Ortiz poem that sees Bantu emerging from the Kingdom of Congo; related in multi-language verses, eventually overlapping, it is accompanied by only percussion. Haitian singer Emeline Michel and Puerto Rico native Marlène Ramírez-Cancio join in reading the lines. "Conversation with the Oaks," "Golden Voice (Changüi)" are suffused with melodic fragments and polyrhythms, the tempos rapid and lashing. "Argelier's Disciple" incorporates similar elements but lurches along with irregular pacing. "Part I" of the title track—"Sacred Codes"—is an infectious Cyrille/Herrera percussion duet. "Part II"—"Echoes"—is rendered as a miniature suite; thundering at times, pensive and mysterious at others. Inside Rhythmic Falls concludes with "Para ti Nengón," the composer unknown, and featuring Ortiz, Cyrille and Herrera chanting/singing a repetitive phrase to minimal accompaniment.

Across his catalog, Ortiz does not replicate his music nor is his approach linear. What makes Inside Rhythmic Falls different from previous Ortiz trios, is the uncommon texture created by the piano and two percussionists—only Cyrille on the drum kit. The unusual sense of shifting movements is liberating and engrossing; the music exceedingly listenable and inventive. Ortiz is an exceptional composer with a special talent for surrounding himself with gifted and empathetic colleagues.

Track Listing

Lucero Mundo; Conversation with the Oaks; Marímbula's Mood; Golden Voice (Changüi); De Cantos y Ñáñigos; Inside Rhythmic Falls. Part I (Sacred Codes); Argelier's Disciple; Inside Rhythmic Falls. Part II (Echoes); El Ashé de la Palabra; Para ti Nengón.


Aruán Ortiz: piano; Andrew Cyrille: drums; Mauricio Herrera: percussion.

Album information

Title: Inside Rhythmic Falls | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Intakt Records

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