Marcos Varela: San Ygnacio

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Bassist Marcos Varela, Houston-bred and now New York-based, opens his recording debut, San Ygnacio, with a big, brash version of the standard, "I Should Care." His rhythm section is rounded out by veteran pianist George Cables and drum icon Billy Hart, so a free swinging zest is expected, and delivered. Logan Richardson on alto sax makes it a quartet, with tart tone and stretched notes that bring the legendary alto saxophonist Jackie McLean to mind. It's a bold anthem of an introduction, and it may be here for Varela to prove—on his first recording—that he can put together a band and lay down a standard with the best of them. He succeeds marvelously.

Varela traces his American roots to a time back before America existed as a country, back to the day of the Spanish land grants. The disc's title refers to the town of his family's 1750's land grant. "Santa Colinas De Santa Maria" is the name of the familial rancho, and the title to the Valera-penned second tune of the set, and—given that the inspiration of the music is more than two and a half centuries old—it is remarkably modern-sounding, bubbling with magic and mystery. Varela does a bit of a mixing of the line-ups here, and "Colinas..." features a quartet—alto sax and a rhythm section—heard on only two numbers. It's group capable of the subtlest intricacies, an ensemble able to stroll "out there" while maintaining the leader's focused vision.

Trombonist Clifton Anderson—saxophonist Sonny Rollins' trombonist of choice—sits in on two of his own original compositions, "Misuru" and "Sister Gemini," injecting the set with a vibrant mainstream feeling, and pianist George Cables, of the core quartet, brings in one of his tunes, the lovely, pensive "Looking For The Light," while leader Varela contributes "Where The Wild Things Are," begins with a spooky three minute intro that shifts into a propulsive, prickly piece of modern jazz.

San Ygnacio is a rare mixed bag disc that works exceedingly well. Everybody shines—Billy Hart and George Cables, trombonist Anderson and also the younger crew, as well as Marcos Varela and his sharply-honed vision for the sounds he has molded.

Track Listing: I Should Care; Colinas De Santa Maria; Mitsuru; Lulaby For Imke; Sister Gemini; Pepper; Red On Planet Pluto; Looking For The Light; Picturesque; Where The Wild Things Are (Intro); Where The Wild Things Are.

Personnel: Marcos Verela: bass; George Cables: piano; Billy Hart: drums; Logan richardson: alto saxophone ( (1, 4, 8, 10, 11); Clifton Anderson: trombone (3, 5); Dayna Stephens: tenor saxophone (6); Arnold Lee: alto saxophone (2, 7); Eden Ladin: piano (2, 7); Kush Abadey: drums (2, 7).

Title: San Ygnacio | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Origin Records


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Expedition" CD/LP/Track Review Expedition
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 4, 2017
Read "Drama" CD/LP/Track Review Drama
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 4, 2017
Read "Sonder" CD/LP/Track Review Sonder
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 17, 2017
Read "Repeater" CD/LP/Track Review Repeater
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 5, 2016
Read "Translator's Note" CD/LP/Track Review Translator's Note
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 3, 2017
Read "Esse" CD/LP/Track Review Esse
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 5, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.