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Arturo Stable: Notes on Canvas

Russ Musto By

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Like so many of his Cubano compatriots, several of whom join him on this, his second date as a leader, percussionist/composer Arturo Stable is expanding the range of what is commonly called Latin jazz—and indeed scope of jazz itself—with original compositions that are drawn from myriad musical influences and, in the case of Notes on Canvas, from the art world as well. Each of the nine tracks on the date is named for and inspired by a famous painting and the commingling of the visual and the aural results in a program of music that is imaginative and unique.

"La Jungla," on which saxophonist David Sanchez guests with the Cuban rhythm section of Osmany Paredes, Charles Flores, Dafnis Prieto and Stable, starts off in tipico swinging Latin jazz fashion until the leader's spoken word interlude and conga showcase offers a fresh perspective. "Guernica is one of the album's most inspired pieces, with George Garzone and John Lockwood teaming up with Stable on this ominous Ornettish dirge played over a slow flamenco rhythm.

The trio of Aruan Ortiz, Peter Slavov and Francisco Mela (heard on five of the remaining seven tracks) joins Stable on "Impression/Sunrise and proves itself to be an impressively versatile unit—well suited for the percussionist's multi-hued compositions—performing again as a quartet on "Van Gogh's Self Portrait and "Composition # 8," ably accompanying the Miles-ish muted trumpet of Barry Ries on "Gioconda and driving Garzone's powerful tenor through the concluding "Clock Explosion." In between, Esperanza Spaulding's ethereal yet earthy voice breathes life into "Frida's Self Portrait," while Paquito D'Rivera's velvety clarinet pays tribute to the leader's father on "La Ventana Magica." Throughout, Stable guides his compositions with his percussion, moving between congas, cajon, djembe, bongo and bell, tastefully coloring each track.

Celebrating the release of the CD at Cachaça Dec. 6th, 2007, Stable led a stellar quintet, featuring saxophonist Miguel Zenon, pianist Robert Rodriguez, bassist Edward Perez and drummer Henry Cole, through a set of original music that highlighted his burgeoning talent as a composer. He introduced "The Call with a conga solo that exhibited a virtuoso technique that he employed sparingly throughout the evening, choosing instead to use his percussion to emphasize structural aspects of the pieces. On "Van Gogh he displayed a deep knowledge of traditional Cuban rhythms, while on "Danzon del Abuelo he demonstrated an ability to bring the classic form into the future. He laid out completely on the beautiful ballad "Gioconda —allowing Zenon's unfettered alto to accentuate the beautiful melody—and then finished the set with a fiery rendition of "La Jungla," dedicating the piece to the recently departed Carlos "Patato Valdes.

Track Listing: La Jungla (The Jungle); Guernica; Impression/Sunrise; Frida's Self Portrait; Gioconda; Van Gogh's Self Portrait; La Ventana M

Personnel: Arturo Stable: congas, percussion, spoken words; Aruan Ortiz: piano (3, 5, 6, 8, 9); Barry Ries trumpet (5); Charles Flores bass (1); Dafnis Prieto: drums (1); David Sanchez: tenor sax (1); Esperanza Spalding: voice, spoken words(4); Fernando Huergo: bass (4); Francisco Mela: drums (3, 5, 6, 8, 9); George Garzone: tenor sax (2, 9); John Lockwood: bass (2); Osmany Paredes: piano (1); Paquito D

Title: Notes on Canvas | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Origen Records

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