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Marcos Pin: Duology / Barbanza

Chris Mosey By

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Marcos Pin is one of the most interesting jazz guitarists in Europe. On his latest album, Duology, the Spaniard teams up with pianist Yago Vazquez to explore the fast, fluid bebop tradition of such stellar axemen as Tal Farlow and Jimmy Raney.

It follows hard on the heels of Barbanza, featuring a ten-piece band which showcases Pin's talents as writer, arranger and leader.

That one in turn appeared shortly after a new album by Pin with his band, Organic Collective, which specializes in funk. In the pipeline: a third album with the Greek saxophonist Thanos Athanosopoulos. He'll be playing hard bop on that one.

So is Pin in danger of becoming a jack of all trades, master of none? He says no. "I simply wear different hats depending on the type of band and situation."

Marcos Pin/Yago Vazquez
Duology Session 1
Self produced
2014

Five numbers dating back to the 1940s, fearlessly reinvented by Pin and Vazquez. The opener,"Donna Lee," was written by Miles Davis when still a member of the Charlie Parker Quintet.

Pin and Vazquez refuse to be overawed by the song's credentials as they explore its harmonic and melodic possibilities. Pin's playing sometimes evokes that of Joe Pass though shorn of Pass's rather cold, analytical approach. For all the dazzling melodic runs he might throw at the listener, Pin never neglects rhythm or swing.

From about halfway on "Blue Monk," Vazquez takes the more prominent role, with Pin comping but doing it so well you almost forget he is there.

In best Bird tradition, Pin and Vazquez create what is virtually a new song based on the chord progression of Jerome Kern's "All The Things You Are," making the piece sound almost like a madrigal on occasion. The all-too-familiar melody is only stated plainly at the end.

Gene De Paul's "You Don't Know What Love Is" gets a meditative, almost brooding treatment. Pin complements an excellent, edgy dissection of the melody with some fine, fluent chord work.

Pin and Vazquez save their best for last: a lively and always swinging treatment of Parker's "Dewey Square." Sparks fly: Bird Lives!

All too soon, it's over. Let's hope Session 2 isn't too far off.

Marcos Pin/Factor E-Reset
Barbanza
Free code
2013

Named for the part of the Iberian Peninsular that Pin calls home, this features six of his own compositions plus John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice."

Pin says of the band: "The musicians are just my favorites from the region, great cats and cool guys. They really make it sound easy."

Which, of course it ain't. Pin describes the way he writes: "Usually, I start at the piano, less often at the guitar. I usually work on my leit motifs and melodies first. I normally write down the theme and then the harmonies to it. From that point on, I work on form and arrangement and I finish it up with the orchestration."

Despite this rigorous routine, there's a curious "unfinished," sometimes almost ragged feel to a lot of his music, with his writing for the saxophone ensembles on the Coltrane number perhaps the most innovative of the session, sparking a fine baritone solo by Tono Olero.

"San Finx," rolls along nicely, with some nice work by the leader and features that rarity, an understated drum solo, by Max Gomez before an enigmatic finale. "Where Are They?" has some interesting trumpet by Javier Pereiro before an ensemble riff gets hammered to death towards the close.

"Escarabote's Blues" degenerates into free form, with doomy piano from Manolo Gutierrez and much dissonant squawking and growling from the horns. The album would have been better off without it.


Tracks and Personnel

Duology

Tracks: Donna Lee; Blue Monk; All The Things You Are; You Don't Know What Love Is; Dewey Square.

Personnel: Marcos Pin: guitar; Yago Vazquez: piano.

Barbanza

Tracks: Bagueera's Dilemma; Moment's Notice; Bico De Mar; San Finx; Where Are They?; Noite De Sereas; Escarabote's Blues.

Personnel: Marcos Pin: guitar; Javier Pereiro "GD Jazz": trumpet, flugelhorn; José Luis Miranda: trombone, euphonium; Pablo Castanho: alto saxophone, flute; Xosé Lois Miguelez: tenor saxophone; Toño Otero: tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone; Ton Risco: vibes; Manolo Gutiérrez: piano; Juansy Santomé: double bass; Max Gómez: drums.

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