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Ernesto Diaz-Infante: Tepeu

Jim Santella By

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Improvised solo piano musings from gifted artist Ernesto Diaz-Infante allow the listener to share in the creative process. His two albums itz'at and Tepeu both serve to demonstrate the improviser's creative process from start to finish. Diaz-Infante begins with vague thematic material and molds it, through his choices of harmony and melody, into an image "suitable for framing." The pianist earned his master's in composition from CalArts in Southern California, studying with free and creative instructors that included trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. (You can find more information about the composer at http://www.propellerheads.com/ .

The title track is 22 minutes of structured improvisation, in which Diaz-Infante combines several drifting ideas into a focused concrete image. Droning bass notes lie beneath a consonant harmony while the right hand searches out the desired path. The dissonant bottom, representing disorder, is supplanted by the increasingly lucid harmony and gentle melodic patterns. Jazz is existent – not through a swinging rhythm or quoted historical context, but simply through the creative process and its accompanying imagery.

Each of the other pieces were freely improvised. "Thesis" is five minutes of inspired drama, introduced through mesmerizing chords that lay a foundation for the majesty that follows. "Synthesis" and "Antithesis" are each over ten minutes long; the latter includes vibrant percussive rhythms. Opposite the dreamy musings of "Thesis," the piece drives in 4/4 with a variety that overlays several rhythmic patterns simultaneously.

A rubato album without constant toe-tapping rhythms will sometimes turn a listener away; however, both itz'at and Tepeu involve the creation of focused images that began in the composer's mind and resulted from his spontaneous performance.


Track Listing: As Above, So Below; Thesis; Tepeu; Antithesis; Synthesis; What Has Been, Will Be Again.

Title: Tepeu | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Pax Recordings


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