By now, trombonist and composer Ryan Keberle has established himself as a solid name on the jazz scene, but like all musicians, he did not come out of nowhere. On the album Azul Infinito, he pays homage to South American music and the composers that have meant something to him.
The opener "I Thought I Knew (for Pedro Giraudo)" starts out with looped wordless vocals from singer Camila Meza and spiraling brass patterns from Keberle and trumpeter Mike Rodriquez before settling into a groove that references the rhythms and time signatures of the Argentinian chacarera. Adding to the sophistication is the lyrics from poet Manca Miro whose words shine in Meza's interpretation, singing of "thoughts -untethered -falling through space like feathers."
"She Sleeps Alone" is another song with lyrics penned by Miro, but this time, as the name suggests, it is a more dreamlike ballad, with atmospheric melodica-playing from Keberle. The song is dedicated to the songwriter Sebastian Cruz who also turns up as a lyricist on the shuffling "Cancíon Mandala."
Azul Infinato is very much about the power of rhythm and song and its cathartic effect. Bassist Jorge Roeder's playing brilliantly keeps the rhythm in the pocket, but it also has a compelling, funky elasticity, and Eric Doob's drumming is both laidback and tight. A perfect example of the two working together to create an irresistibly swaying vibe is the homage to Brazilian composer Ivan Lins: "Quintessence."
This an album that speaks about the vitality and inspiration of South American music as filtered through the creative musical mind of Ryan Keberle. Clearly, he is not interested in reproducing clichés, but in finding new manifold musical expressions without losing his ties to tradition.
As a sidenote, it is also a pleasure to read the informative liner notes of both Keberle and jazz pianist and composer Arturo O'Farrill.
I Thought I Knew (For Pedro Giraudo); Cancion Mandala; Mr. Azul (for Samuel
Torres); She Sleeps Alone (For Sebastian Cruz); Quintessence (For Ivan Lins); La
Ley Primera; Eternity of an Instant (For Emilio Solla); Madalena.
Ryan Keberle: trombone, melodica; Camila Meza: voce; Mike Rodriguez: tromba,
pandeiro; Jorge Roeder: contrabbasso, basso elettrico, basso FX; Eric Doob:
African Jazz Ambient / New Age Blues Brazilian Contemporary / Smooth Electronica Free Improv / Avant-Garde Fringes of Jazz Funk / Groove Fusion / Progressive Rock Latin Modern Jazz R&B / Soul Straight-ahead (Bop, Hard bop, Cool) Vocal