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Luz de Luna is the second album by the BvR Flamenco Big Band, which is based in the Netherlands, and not, as might be assumed, in Spain. The band's Spanish roots are strong, however, as leader Bernard van Rossum (hence the name BvR) was born and raised in that country and has lived in the Netherlands for less than a decade (after studying at the University of North Texas in Denton). He was also raised on flamenco, whose colorful rhythms and harmonies he has transplanted to the jazz idiom to frame a musical hybrid that is as spontaneous as it is spirited.
Besides leading the band and playing soprano saxophone, van Rossum serves as composer / arranger, having written everything on this album save the fleeting finale, "Catedral para un Ateo," a composition by guest Edsart Udo de Haes whose guitar is unaccompanied on that number. Van Rossum makes good use of other visitors as well, with Antonio Serrano's harmonica enlivening the buoyant "Luz de Luna" and Ben van Gelder's alto saxophone embellishing the rhythmic "Tras la Tormenta." As for van Rossum, his burnished soprano underscores the charming ballad "Y Tu ni Siquiera lo Sabes," which also brings to the fore the expressive voice of David de Jacoba.
Van Rossum's seventeen-piece ensemble boasts several admirable soloists of its own, notably pianist Xavi Torres, trumpeter Bruno Calvo and tenor Joao Driessen ("El Gladiator Cobarde"), alto Jasper van Damme ("La Gaviota"), Torres and trumpeter Gidon Nunes Vaz ("Lejos de Casa"). Maria Marin's animated flamenco vocals quicken "Luz de Luna" and "Lejos de Casa." As on the band's previous album, Jaleo Holandes, van Rossum's firm grasp of flamenco and jazz creates a balanced enterprise in which neither side holds all the cards but plays what is dealt in a manner that is conducive to the well-being and success of everyone in the game. The band's dexterity and esprit de corps were rewarded in 2014 when it earned first prize at the eighteenth annual Meerjam International Band Competition.
In sum, Luz de Luna is an opulent banquet, setting forth the best features of flamenco and jazz on one appetizing menu. If there's a downside it lies in the album's LP-like forty-minute playing time; on the other hand, not many of those minutes are wasted.
La Gaviota; Luz de Luna; El Gladiador Cobarde; Y Tu ni Siquiera lo Sabes; Lejos de Casa; Tras la Tormenta; Catedral Para un Ateo.
Bernard van Rossum: leader, composer, arranger, lyricist, soprano sax; Gerhard Ornig: trumpet; Bruno Calvo: trumpet; Gidon Nunes Vaz: trumpet; Evgeniy Bandarev: trumpet; Jasper van Damme: alto sax, flute; Miguel Ortega: alto sax, clarinet; Joao Driessen: tenor sax, clarinet; Fernando Sanchez: tenor sax; Bruno van der Haegen: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Jos van der Heuvel: trombone; Oliver Emitt: trombone; Matthias Konrad: trombone; Pablo Martinez: bass trombone; Xavi Torrres: piano; Marco Zenini: bass; Joan Terel: drums. Flamenco artists – Maria Marin: voice; Edsart Udo de Haes: flamenco guitar; Udo Demandt: percussion; Miguel Hiroshi: percussion. Special guests – Antonio Serrano: harmonica; David de Jacoba: voice; Ben van Gelder: alto sax; Carlos de Jacoba: guitar on “La Gaviota” vocal interlude.