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Album Review

Aruán Ortiz Trio: Serranias: Sketchbook For Piano Trio


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Aruán Ortiz Trio: Serranias: Sketchbook For Piano Trio
Pianist Aruán Ortiz hails from Santiago de Cuba, but he has resided in the United States for two decades. Musically he is a first cousin to pianist Matthew Shipp with his approachable and often intense and avant-garde keyboard style; and he seems a stylistic grandson to Thelonious Monk with his joyful angularities and off-kilter interludes. But he is the son of Cuba, his music mixing in a cubist way the island nation's toques, rumbas, son and conga, tinted at times with Afro-Haitian undercurrents and European classical shadings. And speaking of musical family, Dizzy Gillespie is in there too—a great uncle perhaps—as the trio opens with a fractured and nicely haphazard reconstruction of "Shaw 'Nuff" to introduce Serranias: Sketchbook For Piano Trio, a celebration of sorts of Ortiz' 50th birthday and his 20-year residency in the U.S.

Joined by bassist Brad Jones and drummer John Betsch here, the pianistic Picasso paints with an array of colors that runs from dark blues to light greys, stirring up turbulence and ominous atmospheres. Shadows fall everywhere, shafts of light beaming through, with a fragmented, sometimes fractious trio dynamic that suits the music, sharpening the Ortiz edginess.

Serranias: Sketchbook for Piano Trio, is Ortiz' sixth outing for Intakt Records. He is thriving there. This is his most adventurous recording. The word "sketchbook" in the title says, we can guess, something about the looseness, the level of wide-open improvisation involved, the devil-may-care, let-us-go-for-it trio approach.

Track Listing

Shaw 'Nuff (Siento Un Bombo); En Forma De Guajira; Memorias Del Monte; Los Tres Golpes; Canto De Tambores Y Caracoles; Huellas (Interlude I); Serranias; Black Like Thunderstone (one); Like A Changui (Montuno); ...And Shadows (Interlude II); Lullaby For The End Times.


Aruán Ortiz: piano; Brad Jones: bass; John Betsch: drums.

Album information

Title: Serranias: Sketchbook For Piano Trio | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Intakt Records

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