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Hector Martignon: Second Chance

Edward Blanco By

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Columbian-born jazz pianist Hector Martignon firmly believes in second chances in life; whether as a form of redemption or renewal, they serve as important new opportunities. On his second ZOHO release, Second Chance presents an exciting blend of Latin-flavored music, drawing on influences ranging from Brazilian and Colombian idioms to elements of Afro-Cuban rhythms, in a vibrant frame of Latin jazz. Penned for wife Amparo, Second Chance has many meanings, the from personal to the second chances we all have in our lives to embrace opportunities that address past issues. As such, some of the pieces on this album reflect, as the pianist states "an evolved approach to melodies and arrangements already done by me in years past."

In the late' 90s, the pianist recorded with percussionist Ray Barretto's band, and a score he wrote for one of those occasions is renewed here, giving "Guaji-Rita" a second wind, its slow burning arrangement making it one of the set's major highlights. Other delicious pieces given new twists are "She Said She Was From Sarajewo," and "Coqueteos," both taken from Martignon's second solo album, Foreign Affair (Candid 2000)—the latter an especially spicy number from the Colombian highlands that features saxophonist Xavier Perez and fellow countryman Edmar Castaneda, on Columbian harp. Martignon is exceptionally pronounced here, demonstrating his more than ample chops and why he's a Grammy-nominated artist. For this recording the pianist is ably accompanied by his core Foreign Affair quintet which, aside from Perez, also includes bassist Armando Gola, drummer Ludwig Afonso and percussionist Samuel Torres.

The music is further enlivened by the addition of vibraphonist Tim Collins, guitarist Vinny Valentino and trumpeter/flugelhornist John Walsh. The lively, bouncy opener, "Bala Con Bala," features solos from most of the band—including guests Collins, Valentino and Walsh—on the most instrumentally challenging piece of the set.

As a child, Martignon was so taken by the 1962 movie Hatari! that he watched it six times. Seduced by Henry Manicini's sensual score, the pianist gives the movie's theme a second reading, with a light and beautiful rendition that also features some tasteful percussion accompaniment.

The are many sparks on this album. Written as a ballad, the closing up-tempo standard "Alone Together" finds the pianist running his fingers along the keys and ending on a brash Cuban montuno and syncopated piano vamp, also allowing Torres to shine at the song's end.

Spectacular, wonderful and shoulder-moving are all words that don't seem adequate in describing Second Chance,; this is clearly an exceptional session of Latin and Brazilian shaded jazz, sure to demand far more than a second spin.

Track Listing: Bala Con Bala; Second Chance; Coqueteos; Guaji-Rita; Andrea; She Said She Was From Sarajewo; Abre Los Ojos; Hatari; A Long Farewell; Alone Together.

Personnel: Hector Martignon: piano, accordion (7); Armando Gola: bass; Ludwig Afonso: drums; Samuel Torres: percussion; Xavier Perez: saxophones; Tim Collins: vibraphone (1, 2, 7, 8); Vinny Valentino: guitar (1); Edmar Castaneda: harp (3); John Walsh: trumpet, flugelhorn; Edward Perez:bass.

Title: Second Chance | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Zoho Music

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