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Jazz Education: The Next Generation, Part 2

Karl Ackermann By

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On Antenna—his second release for ECM—pianist/composer David Virelles takes his affinity for jazz and Cuban influences to another level, layering on sophisticated planes of improvisation along with ethnic rhythms. With an assortment of electronics, Hammond B-3, Roland Juno-6, electric and prepared pianos, the artist immerses himself in the kind of electronic mélange that has been his forte since his leader debut Mbókò (ECM, 2014).

Reunited with vocalist Román Díaz and drummer Marcus Gilmore from Mbókò, the album opens with "Binary," a piece consisting of programmed Afro-Cuban rhythms and sampled bird refrains. The bluesy contribution of Henry Threadgill's alto saxophone punctuates the otherwise drone and tone-oriented "Water, Bird-Headed Mistress." Cuban rapper Etián Brebaje furnishes the lines in a pop/funk "Rumbakua" while the pulsing arrangement of "El Titan de Bronce" permeates a serpentine maze of piano, guitar and drums.

Antenna seems an evolutionary step for Virelles; more experimental in nature than Mbókò and his first leader date Continuum (Pi Recordings, 2012), it nevertheless incorporates elements of both in a somewhat eclectically perplexing set. No one would suggest that an artist of broad-reaching ambitions and talents find a comfortable niche, but Virelles may benefit from a more focused approach. Track Listing: Binary; Water, Bird Headed Mistress; Threshold; Rumbakuá; El Titán de Bronce; Text. Personnel: David Virelles: acoustic piano, Hammond B3 organ, Roland JUNO-6, Vermona and Wurlitzer electric pianos, prepared piano, programming, samples; Alexander Overington: electronics, samples, cello; Henry Threadgill: alto saxophone (2); Román Díaz: vocals (3); Marcus Gilmore: drums (3,5), MPC (4); Rafiq Bhatia: guitar (3,5); Etián Brebaje Man: vocals (4); Mauricio Herrera: percussion (4); Los Seres: percussion (a fictional percussion ensemble, created and programmed by David Virelles) (1,6)

Photo credit: North Central College

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