Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

5

Manuel Valera Trio: The Seasons

Troy Dostert By

Sign in to view read count
Although Manuel Valera originally staked his claim to fame as a "Latin jazz" pianist, it's fair to say that he has sought to transcend the constraints imposed by that label. On this release, the second by his trio with bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer E.J. Strickland, Valera displays just as much interest in drawing from the musical worlds of classical and pop, refracted through the general prism of post-bop, as anything immediately identifiable as "Latin" jazz. With a well-developed group sound honed during four years of partnership, Valera's trio ultimately moves beyond category altogether.

The album's title comes from a four-part suite Valera composed with inspiration from Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Rather than slavish imitation, Valera uses Vivaldi's concept more than his musical themes, as one is hard-pressed to hear any overt references to the original concertos. Instead, Valera uses the notion of the cyclical passage of time as a springboard for his own rich compositions—especially effectively in the fourth movement, "Winter," with the tune's poignant melody introduced by Glawischnig and accompanied with subtle Latin inflections on the toms by Strickland. Yes, there are Latin stylistic elements present throughout the record, but they're usually understated. Indeed, the album's most "Latin" composition, Cuban songwriter Osvaldo Farres's "Tres Palabras," receives Valera's most classically-inspired performance, with gentle arpeggios and delicate pianistic flourishes that emphasize the lyrical dimensions of the song rather than its rhythmic aspects.

Of the trio's many strengths, perhaps its most distinctive is its percussive power, noticeable especially on the up-tempo numbers. Strickland is crucial in this regard, as his seemingly inexhaustible energy fuels burners like "Opening" and the band's charged version of Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love?" Valera's own technique relies heavily on his forceful left hand, with the intensity of his chords and ostinatos serving as a foundation for his impressive right-hand flights. On the less rambunctious tracks, like Lennon & McCartney's "In My Life" and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," Valera's melodic sensibility shines and the band shows that it can offer beauty and strength in equal measure.

With well-chosen material expertly performed, this is a recording destined to help Valera shed the "Latin jazz" tag. Instead, let's be content to call him what he is: an abundantly talented and imaginative pianist. And leave it at that.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Read more articles
The Seasons

The Seasons

Mavo Records
2017

buy
Unable to find .

SELECT e.id, e.event_type, e.musician_id, e.entity, e.festival, e.house_concert, e.city as ecity, e.state as estate, e.country as ecountry, e.location, e.dt, e.title, e.country_subd, e.state_subd, e.city_subd, e.advertised, e.start, e.price, e.currency, entity.name AS entity_name, entity.city, entity.state, entity.country, entity.country_subd AS entity_country_subd, entity.state_subd AS entity_state_subd, entity.city_subd AS entity_city_subd, country.abbrev AS country_name, currency.name AS currencyname, entity.ticket_url AS ticket_url, musician.thumb_img AS thumb_img FROM musician_event me LEFT JOIN event e ON e.id = me.event LEFT JOIN musician ON e.musician_id = musician.id LEFT JOIN entity ON entity.id = e.entity LEFT JOIN country ON country.id = entity.country LEFT JOIN currency ON currency.id = e.currency WHERE e.active <> 0 AND e.is_planned=0 AND e.dt >= CURDATE() AND me.musician = ORDER BY e.dt LIMIT 7

You have an error in your SQL syntax; check the manual that corresponds to your MySQL server version for the right syntax to use near 'ORDER BY e.dt LIMIT 7' at line 1