Iñaki Sandoval is a Barcelona-based pianist, composer and educator. Beautiful, affecting and constantly rewarding, Miracielos is his third album as a leader and establishes him as a superb writer and player.
Sandoval is backed by the experienced Eddie Gomez on bass and Billy Hart on drums. Both are players of great sensitivity and style, and their contributions are central to the success of an album that alternates between the short "Preludes" and longer compositions. The preludes vary between calm, assured, ballads and tougher, more urgent, pieces, and move seamlessly into the following longer compositions. "Prelude #1" is a full-toned pizzicato bass solo that sets up the piano introduction to the graceful "Miracielos," while "Prelude #3" is a spacious and gentle solo from Sandoval which slips into the late-night groove of "Ya No Quiero Más Ná."
"Prelude #5" is a trio performance which, at only 24 seconds in length, swiftly establishes the sense of sadness and regret that characterizes the exquisitely beautiful "Revolution Is Coming." Although Hart's militaristic drum roll gives the tune an underlying tension and power, "Revolution Is Coming" is not a tune in praise of such an event, even if it heralds its arrival. Sandoval and Gomez both play with delicacy, an air of quiet sorrow driving both players to create an exceptionally emotive piece of music. This same feeling of melancholy pervades "Eternitat" and "Epilogue," drawing the album to a downbeat but beautiful close.
While the finest tunes on Miracielos are its gentle and reflective ones, Sandoval can also shift up a few gears to deliver a groove-laden stomper like "Keep It Fresh" (preceded by Hart's tense, hard-hitting, drum outing, "Prelude #4") or the hard bop "Mr. Frank Martin." The presence of these upbeat and feel-good numbers emphasizes Sandoval's awareness of dynamics and also serves to highlight the beauty of the slower and more delicate tunes.
Filled with music of the finest quality, from a trio of talented and sympathetic players, Miracielos is a gem. The album has been recognized in Spain with a nomination for Jaç Magazine's Best National Album of 2012; the rest of the world has the pleasure of discovery to come.
Prelude #1; Miracielos; Prelude #2; No Excuses; Prelude #3; Ya No Quiero Más Ná; Prelude #4; Keep It Fresh; Prelude #5; Mr. Frank Martin; Prelude #6; Revolution Is Coming; Prelude #7; Eternitat; Epilogue.
Iñaki Sandoval: piano; Eddie Gomez: double bass; Billy Hart: drums.
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