All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

7

The Black Butterflies: Luisa

Matt Marshall By

Sign in to view read count
On their two previous releases, 1 de Mayo (2010) and Rainbows for Ramon (2012), The Black Butterflies built soulful, searching jazz with dense, kinetic layers of Latin and African rhythms. Using both group improvisation and individual statements, they freely, yet unhurriedly, explored the boundaries of their music, often lingering in spots to let the tonal palette shift organically. With Luisa they've tightened their focus, strongly favoring tango and other Argentinian folk forms, while keeping solos brief and holding most tracks to the five-minute mark. Notably, the Argentinian focus brings the late master Gato Barbieri into the fold (or was it the other way around?) to play on three numbers that would prove to be the final studio recordings of his career.

Yet the central, overarching focus of the album seems to be family, a concept that easily spreads to encompass the band's musical interests, from nods to the immediate family of leader and saxophonist Mercedes Figueras to Barbieri and tango legends Astor Piazzolla and Carlos Gardel to the broader families of tango and jazz, and music and Latin culture more generally. And, of course, to the very particular family that is this or any other band. Percussionist and saxophonist Tony Larokko kicks things off by invoking the lines of the old folk song "Hambone" ("Hambone, hambone, where you been? / Around the world, I'm goin' again"), setting in motion the album's circular route: the "Hambone" lines lead into the Piazzolla classic "Adios Nonino" and 30 minutes later the album comes back around to Gardel's "Por una Cabeza." In between are five emotionally vibrant pieces that sway and kick under Argentina's musical thrall.

Figueras and Barbieri prove to be fine dance partners. On the Figueras compositions "Gato's Hat" and "Brother Nacho, Sister Lola," and Ramon Sixto Rios' "Merceditas," the alto and tenor melodies twine in fluid passion, then release to flare individual, high-register fuel. The contrapuntal interplay works especially well on "Gato's Hat," with the duo continuing to twirl as the music fades away. Vibraphonist Karl Berger, reunited here with Barbieri 50 years after their days in Don Cherry's employ (another familial connection), turns in the standout solo of the set with his rapid, finely articulated spin through McCoy Tyner's "Love Samba." The album also includes an intriguing Figueras lullaby ("Luisa") that trades in comfort and contradiction, and is sung by the composer in a curiously low, breathy register that adds something of a spectral presence to the song.

Fans of The Black Butterflies' first two releases may miss the wider scope of world music influences that informed those recordings, but the tight, sensual—yet free-spirited—dance the group commits to on Luisa should bring plenty of pleasure to anyone enamored of Barbieri's experimental fusions of Latin and avant-garde jazz.

Track Listing: Hambone/Adios Nonino; Gato’s Hat; Luisa; Brother Nacho, Sister Lola; Merceditas; Love Samba; Por una Cabeza.

Personnel: Mercedes Figueras: alto saxophone, vocals; Karl Berger: vibes, melodica; Kenny Wollesen: drums, percussion; Bopa "King" Carre: bongos, percussion; Fred Berryhill: djembe, percussion, body percussion; Tony Larokko: percussion, soprano saxophone, vocals; Rick Bottari: piano; Nick Gianni: bass; Gato Barbieri: tenor saxophone.

Title: Luisa | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Luisa

Luisa

Self Produced
2017

buy
Rainbows for Ramon

Rainbows for Ramon

Self Produced
2012

buy
The Black Butterflies: Rainbows for Ramon

The Black...

Self Produced
2012

buy
Primero de Mayo

Primero de Mayo

Self Produced
2010

buy
The Black Butterflies:  1 de Mayo

The Black...

Unknown label
2010

buy

Related Articles

Read Circulate Susanna CD/LP/Track Review
Circulate Susanna
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 13, 2018
Read Jazzamenco CD/LP/Track Review
Jazzamenco
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 13, 2018
Read You Have Options CD/LP/Track Review
You Have Options
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 13, 2018
Read Heroes, Saints and Clowns CD/LP/Track Review
Heroes, Saints and Clowns
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 13, 2018
Read Bowie, Berlin & Beyond CD/LP/Track Review
Bowie, Berlin & Beyond
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 13, 2018
Read For You CD/LP/Track Review
For You
by Patrick Burnette
Published: November 12, 2018
Read "I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert" CD/LP/Track Review I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 8, 2018
Read "Life Stories" CD/LP/Track Review Life Stories
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 13, 2018
Read "Hide Ye Idols" CD/LP/Track Review Hide Ye Idols
by Troy Collins
Published: November 19, 2017
Read "DeiCont | Philips Collective" CD/LP/Track Review DeiCont | Philips Collective
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 15, 2018
Read "Climbing Trees" CD/LP/Track Review Climbing Trees
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 12, 2018
Read "The Dream Thief" CD/LP/Track Review The Dream Thief
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: October 19, 2018