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.
Track Listing: 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
Personnel: 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.
Title: Miles Espanol: New Sketches of Spain
| Year Released: 2011
| Record Label: Entertainment One