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Ramiro Marziani: The Martian's Playground

Geno Thackara By

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We've heard those proverbs about the devil's playground, so what would the equivalent be for Martians? The evidence here would suggest a mix of the odd, wacky, exuberant and playful. Ramiro Marziani's hands are anything but idle on his guitar throughout this whirlwind of a recording. One moment he's practically shredding with extra metallic crunch, the next it's Latin-tinged acoustic bliss. The aliens on this playground have obviously grown up enjoying the red planet's equivalents of Ralph Towner and Allan Holdsworth.

The overall result makes for some wild changes in tone, but it's the kind of jarring that usually comes out exciting rather than random or senseless. Each piece is built with whatever ingredients the mood calls for—pastoral folky flute, airy horns, brisk piano or sunny strums. The leader has plenty of different facets to share as time allows. If there's a throughline joining all these eclectic moods, it's a palpable sense of fun and adventure.

The first couple tracks are actually somewhat misleading since Marziani packs all the punk-metal crunch right up front. "Ace of Spades" gives a high-speed opening jolt suggestive of namesake Lemmy Kilmister (and still leaves space for a sunny acoustic interlude), but he then puts the band and the songs at center stage rather than making it an hour-long shred fest. The wide-ranging "Mountain Glacier" energetically defies its title, apparently unable to decide between upbeat swing and loud slap-you-in-the-face rock fusion. Soon enough the album's middle stretch drifts back toward smooth and calming with pretty flute and some straightforwardly jazzy grooving.

From small electric combo to jitterbuggy big band, The Martian's Playground generally stays spacious and cinematic throughout. The closer, "A la Perla," manages the best balancing act in juggling all the players and instruments with everything in its right place, after which we're left with the feeling of returning home after a colorful trip. This is a playground of the imagination more than anything else, and one that's an exhilarating pleasure to visit.

Track Listing: Ace of Spades; Hopeful Thinking; Mountain Glacier; Six Blue Days in the Moroccan Desert; Green Trees and Winter Skies; El Alba (live); A la Perla.

Personnel: Ramiro Marziani: guitars; Jonathan Salas: drums (3, 6, 7); Julián Pardo: drums (4); Zak Icaza: drums (1); Fernando Firmino: electric & acoustic bass (3, 6, 7); Brian Lottermann: electric bass (1); Noam Tanzer: acoustic bass (4); Joseph Rivera: piano & keys (3, 6, 7); Thiago Vitorio: piano (4); Juan Pablo Tello: percussion (2, 5, 6); Tadeo Kvitca: bombo leguero (6); Kristalis Sotomayor: flute (3, 7); Will Trueblood: trumpet, flugelhorn (3, 7); Tim Murphy: tenor sax (3, 7); Luis García: baritone sax, bass clarinet (3, 7); Claudia Medina: alto sax (3); Ariel Loud: soprano sax (7); Anton Derevyanko: soprano sax (4); Erickson Cardenas: trombone (3).

Title: The Martian's Playground | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Self Produced

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