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Javier Red's Imagery Converter: Life & Umbrella


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Javier Red's Imagery Converter: Life & Umbrella
Chicago pianist Javier Red and his quartet, Imagery Converter, follow their stimulating debut Ephemeral Certainties (Delmark, 2019) with the equally superb Life & Umbrella. Red dedicates the current release to spreading love and understanding for individuals with autism. The dozen originals which comprise it do not have traditional starting and ending heads, as concepts flow from one to the other. This gives the album its uniqueness and contributes to its thematic unity.

The angular "Brain Check" starts off with crystalline rhythmic refrains, courtesy of Red's block chords, drummer Gustavo Cortiñas's rumbling beats, and bassist Ben Dillinger's reverberating strings. Saxophonist Jake Wark adds short, blustery phrases to the intro which then coalesce and evolve into a fiery improvisation replete with brassy tones. Red follows with his cascading solo which delightfully flirts with dissonance. Over Cortiñas' and Dillinger's swaggering cadence, Red sprinkles resonant chimes which conclude on a tense and expectant note.

Equally dramatic and innovative is the melancholic and somber "Thoughts Unable to Be Contained." Opening with Wark's dark, forlorn saxophone and Red's sparse keys, the tune gradually transforms into a dramatic four-way conversation. Joining Wark's eloquent tenor saxophone which brims with passion, are Cortinas' polyrhythms, reserved yet equally emotive, and Dillinger's darkly hued lines. Red launches into an angular, sometimes wistful, extemporization which is simultaneously provocative and stirring, and ushers in the explosive coda.

The eleven-minute closer, "Future, Umbrella, and Life," is also the centerpiece of the recording and commences with Dillinger's unaccompanied and atmospheric pizzicato. Cortinas enters with his thundering drums and rustling cymbals while Red contributes hypnotic vamps. Thus they set a thrillingly dramatic ambience. Wark blows an erudite and blistering spontaneous melody while Red responds with bursts of percussive pianism. Here too, the performance veers towards an atonality which makes the music even more captivating. The mood changes from solemn to upbeat and from cautious to hopeful. The track also allows Dillinger time in the spotlight that showcases his extreme lyricism and agility.

Red excels once more as a composer, bandleader, and improviser. Life & Umbrella is a thoughtfully crafted work which is alive with emotion and inventive ideas. The seamless camaraderie among the members of this collaborative group, and their individual superlative musicianship, allow for a full and vibrant expression of Red's artistic vision.

Track Listing

Thoughts Unable To Be Contained; The Happiness Of Hope; Imaginary Friend; Brain Check; Umbrella; Resilience Cycle; This Is What They Found; Life; Interior World; Different Tempos; Choices; Future, Umbrella, And Life.


Javier Red: piano; Jake Wark: saxophone, tenor; Gustavo Cortiñas: drums; Ben Dillinger: bass.

Album information

Title: Life & Umbrella | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Desafio Candente

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