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Diego Rivera: Love & Peace


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Diego Rivera: Love & Peace
While some of its roots lie in jazz practices of the mid-to-late twentieth century, Diego Rivera's Love & Peace brushes aside the expectations and comparisons which often accompany newly-recorded records that bear a resemblance to sounds from the past.

The tenor and soprano saxophonist assembled a cast of players who frequently appear on Posi-Tone releases. Pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Boris Kozlov, and drummer Rudy Royston have met the challenges of loads of jazz and improvised music projects, as well as other situations. Love & Peace gives them ample opportunity to offer viewpoints which are not accessible to players with less catholic experiences.

Rivera wrote eight of the eleven tracks on the record. By turns his compositions are sturdy, spirited, and elegant vehicles, ranging from the genial hard-bop of "Lovely" to the wild celebratory air of "Ganas" to the graceful, folk-like melody of "La Malinche." The quartet has a penchant for fashioning complete statements out of tracks in the four-to-six-minute range. Rivera's "Anticipation" finds them tugging at the restraints of the twenty-four bar, swing-to- Latin line, even while they abide by it.

The record includes improvisations which leave the listener feeling stimulated rather than short-changed by their relative brevity. Rivera and Hirahara are vigorously swinging soloists who sustain momentum from start to finish, evincing a clarity of purpose and a refreshing lack of clutter and cliché. Rivera treats Violeta Parra's hymn-like, "Gracias A La Vida" with the reverence it deserves, building his lines carefully, steadily becoming more expansive and passionate, and integrating soulful touches into a lucid core. Hirahara's three choruses on "Anticipation" are a prime illustration of his ability to cultivate and fuse ideas on the fly, juggling form and a persistent drive.

Two tracks stand out from this impressive collection of performances. Rivera's "Soul Purpose" begins with a soul-jazz, R'n'B ambiance tied to an easy-going, medium-tempo swing. Royston's frisky, skittish asides add an unexpected dimension to an otherwise conventional sound, and augur that something extraordinary is about to happen. Sure enough, the music rapidly accelerates, powered by Royston's repetitive, insistent two-beat bass and snare combinations and Kozlov's firm four-to-the-bar bass line. Throughout solos by Hirahara and Rivera, the drummer inserts stunningly brief, eccentric, often multi-stroke fills without dropping a beat or sacrificing momentum. Despite the rapid pace, the track's depth of feeling remains intact, in part because of a built-in refrain at the end of each chorus.

John Coltrane's "Alabama" is one of two tracks written by jazz icons. (Horace Silver's "Peace" is the other.) The first two minutes and twenty seconds consist of Rivera's solo tenor sax. Gradually he eases into the melody and inserts variations which are not so much detours or digressions as extensions of Coltrane's line. The band hits a thickset swing groove which feels a mile deep and wide. Rivera reprises the melody more concisely and follows with a solo which eventually turns complex, expansive, and raw. Not unlike the whole of Peace & Love, these developments shine a light on Rivera's and the band's skill sets and their ability to make an emotional impact.

Track Listing

Lovely; Ganas; Gracias A La Vida; Soul Purpose; Anticipation; Alabama; Composure; Simon; La Malinche; Battle Fatigue; Peace.


Diego Rivera: saxophone; Art Hirahara: piano; Boris Kozlov: bass, acoustic; Rudy Royston: drums.

Album information

Title: Love & Peace | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

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