A collaboration between vocalist Kat Parra and trombonist/arranger Wayne Wallace would be reason enough to celebrate ¡Las Aventuras de Pasión!, the duo favoring a slightly more languorous than usual Afro-Cuban jazz, richly played and brightly sung. Wallace has mined this vein on a string of remarkably good records over the last decade or so. Highlights of this Afro-Cuban warmth include Parra's bilingual cha-cha-cha "Oye Papi," and Murray Low's elegant and altogether apposite piano playing.
But there is more to Parra's musical vision than one kind of Latin jazz, however comprehensive that might be. Parra's Azucar de Amor (Patois, 2008)also with Wallace and Low, and an idiomatic Latin jazz set, wound down with a heterodox reading of "Esta Montanya D'Enfrente," a traditional Judaeo- Spanish song several centuries old. The Sephardic element assumed greater importance on Parra's follow-up, Dos Amantes (JazzMa, 2010).
These musical detours emphasize that Spanish speakers spread from Iberia in 1492, not only to Latin America but also east to the Ottoman Empire. Parra takes up the traditional songs of the Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain in the year of Columbus' landing in the New World, thereby insisting upon a substantially ecumenical notion of what is meant by "Hispanic music."
On record, this sounds a lot less like a museum exhibit than it might in print. "Esta Montanya D'Enfrente" featured a shakuhachi, as does "Yo M'Enamori D'Un Aire" (furthermore driven by Dana Pandey's tabla). This unconventional instrumentation serves to underscore the vitality of the ancient material.
The back-and-forth between the smoky environs of Latin jazz and the folksy, socially conscious peña of the folk songs is smoothly transited rather than jarring. Indeed, there are more than a few numbers this time round that genuinely fuse these elementslike the ancient and the Afro-Cuban on "Dieziocho Anyos," or in Masaru Koga's fluid soprano sax solo on the Sephardic "Morenika." All the music on ¡Las Aventuras de Pasión!, moreoverand regardless of its particular mix of stylesexudes a slightly laidback (though never insipid) groove that lends overall coherence to the record.
Parra's conceptual restlessness is evident in the opening "Iko Iko," tastefully arranged by Wallace, thereby connecting the Hispanic musical world to New Orleans quite correctly. There is also the closing pair of numbers, fusing jazz with classical music by Gabriel Fauré and Erik Satie. Rich and satisfying from start to finish.
Track Listing: Iko Iko; Dieziocho Anyos; Call Your Name; La Comida de la Manyana; Morenika; Lo Siento Mi
Vida; Yo M'Enamori d'un Aire; Oye Papi; Durme, Durme; Nature Boy; Man on a
Wire/Gymnopédie No. 1.
Personnel: Kat Parra: vocals, arrangements; John Worley: trumpet (1,8); Wayne Wallace: trombone (1, 8),
arrangments (1-3,7, 8, 10) coro singer (1, 4); Masaru Koga: alto sax (1, 8), soprano sax (5),
shakuhachi (7), flute (10); Murray Low: piano (1, 3, 5, 8, 11), arrangements (5); José
Roberto Hernández: guitar (2, 9); Sam Bevan: acoustic bass (2); Chris Lopes: acoustic
bass (3, 5); David Belove: electric bass (1, 8); David Pinto: baby bass (9), arrangements (9);
Mads Tolling: violin I (3, 6), arrangements (6); Lila Sklar: violin II (3, 6); Emily Onderdonk:
violas I & II (3, 6); Renata Bratt: cello (6, 7, 10); Paul van Wageningen: drums (1, 3, 8); Curt
Moore: drums (5); Michaelle Goerlitz: congas, percussion (1, 3, 8); Michael Spiro: congas,
percussion (2), arrangements (4); Michael Hatfield: marimba (2, 6); Colin Douglas:
batá, percussion (4); Matt Lucas: batá, percussion (4); Katja Cooper: darbuka,
riq (5); Dana Pandey: tabla (7); Raúl Ramírez: cajón, cheko, quijada (9);
Pat Parra; coro singer (1); Wendy Waller: coro singer (1); Rafael Castro: coro singer (1, 4);
Mochi Parra: vocals, coro singer (4).
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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