In the days of the so-called Young Lions jazz wavewhich lasted roughly, from 1981 to 1992instrumentalists and singers were all the rage. At the tail end of that period, South Carolina-born saxophonist Bob Belden was making waves for his comprehensive and compelling arranging chops. Over the last two decades, Belden has brilliantly re-imagined the music of Sting, Puccini, Stevie Wonder, and, most notably Miles Davis. Devotees of the Prince of Darkness also know that Belden is one of the world's most astute "Milesologists," as evidenced by the Grammy-winning Miles Davis Sony box set compilations he produced.
Belden's genius for going beyond musical and cultural borders is on full display on this invigorative and inventive, two-CD exploration of Davis' flamenco- and Spanish-tinged pieces, largely selected from his legendary collaboration with arranger Gil Evans, Sketches of Spain (Columbia, 1960), and Kind of Blue (Columbia, 1959)two towering recordings that formed a fertile crescent where the Old and New worlds met on equal terms. Comprising sixteen tracks, Belden has recruited a diverse array of over forty musicians, from ex-Davis sidemen including drummer Jack DeJohnette, bassist Ron Carter and über-pianist Chick Corea, to name a few, to Spanish masters like guitarist Niño Joseles and Chano Dominguez, arguably the most proficient jazz piano interpreter of flamenco genre, along with Belden's longtime band mate, trumpeter Tim Hagans. On this profound project Belden used Davis' Afro-Iberian musical tapestry to weave a rooted, yet revelatory new hybrid that sizzles under the heat of the Andalusia sun, and on the Manhattan bandstand.
Belden's re-rendering of Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez" and the "Saeta/Pan Piper" is a more Latin American/Maghred-oriented affair, courtesy of Edmar Castaneda's Colombian harp, Rabih Abou-Khalil's mournful Lebanese oud and Cristano Pato's piercing, Hispano-Celtic bagpipe. The Afro-Cubanized "Flamenco Sketches" burns with New York trumpeter Jerry Gonzalez's dark, lovely and Davis-tinged flugelhorn, peppered by Dominguez's Segovia-meets-Bud Powell pianism. Havana-born pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba's rhapsodic lines illuminate his own "Fantasia por Miles y Gil," pulsed by the formidable footprints of Carter's sorcerer-like bass lines and accented by Peruvian drummer/ex-Weather Report sideman Alex Acuña. Corea gets to wear his Spanish heart on his sleeve on the self-penned "Trampolin," with Carter and Mexican drum phenom Antonio Sanchez, contrasted by DeJohnette's Caribbean-cadenced, "Spantango," with Puerto Rican pianist Edsel Gomez and Venezuelan percussionist Luisito Quintero.
With this daring and diverse recording, Belden shows how Spanish and Spanish-speaking artists have easily absorbed the Davis/Evans Brujera Brew, and how jazz instrumentalists have adapted to the ancient, African/Moorish and Gypsy/Jewish Flamenco strains in swinging fashion, without the need of a translator.
CD1: Comcierto de Aranjuez; Trampolin; Just Three Miles; Duende; Momento; Brujo y Cayo; Paisaje; Saeta/Pan Pipe
CD2: Spantango; Flamenco Sketches; Tirititran; El Swing; Fantasia por Miles y Gil; Teao/Neo; Beautiful Love; Solea
Bob Belden: co-producer, arranger, marimbas, timpani; Ron Carter: bass; Jack DeJohnette drums; Sonny Fortune: flute;
Eddie Gomez: bass; Gonzalo Rubalcaba: piano; John Scofield: guitar; Rabih Abou-Khalil: oud; John Clark: French horn: Tim Hagans: trumpet; Jerry Gonzalez: percussion, conga, flugelhorn; Adam Rudolph: tabla, caxixi, cajon, sintir, qarqaba; Jorge Pardo: flute; Alex Acuña: percussion, bongos, drums, maracas, bells, cajon, quinto; Carlos Benavent: bass; John Benítez: bass; Chick Corea: piano; Sammy Figuerova: percussion, conga, ganza; Scott Kinsey: synthesizer; Lou Marini: flute, bass flute; Michael Rabinowitz: bassoon; John Riley: timpani; Antonio Sanchéz: drums; Vince Wilburn Jr.: drums; Mike Williams: trumpet; Chano Domínguez: piano; Luisito Quintero: conga; Charles Pillow: English horn, oboe: Edsel Gomez: piano; Jaco Abel: guitar; Dominick Farinacci: trumpet; Victor Prieto: accordion; Cristina Pato: bagpipes; Edmar Castaneda: harp; Brahim Fribgame: dumbek, cajon; Niño Joseles guitar.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.