Cuban pianist Elio Villafranca has found the way to celebrate both his Latin jazz roots and straight-ahead jazz influences on The Source In Between. Along with tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, drummer Dafnis Prieto, bassist Jeff Carney and also featuring saxophonist Yosvany Terry, hand percussionist Arturo Stable and drummer Ferenc Nemeth on selected tracks, Villafranca wends his way through a selection of original compositions that bespeak of both the Latin and jazz genres.
Ordinarily a CD with only original compositions can be problematic because there is no base from which to interpret, but Villafranca is an accomplished pianist who displays an ability to combine the emotional values of conventional Latin pianism with some of the cerebral ones of bop, post-bop and free jazz, finding a new territory in which to inhabit. The album's title is his name for locale and the title track is a straight-ahead bebop melody with a Latin percussive figure excitingly defined by Prieto; the tune also appears as the last track in a "Latin re-mix" featuring fine work by Stable on tumbadores. Alexander hands in memorable moments with a blistering solo as well as on the haunting ballad "The Lonely One." But it is the ways he and Villafranca develop ideas in interplay as well as separately that make this CD stand out. Prieto and Carney provide support all the way through and exhibit solid performances, especially on "Oddua Suite," a theme that sounds as if it was drawn from Cuban folk music.
It is evident from this most enjoyable album that Villafranca will have much more to say musically in the future as he continues to explore The Source In Between.
Track Listing: The Source In Between; The Lonely One; Oddua Suite; Three Plus One; In The Dark; Faces, Not Evil; Resurrection Of The Incapacitated; Don't Ever Say Never; Luna; The Source In Between (Latin Re-Mix).
Personnel: Elio Villafranca: piano; Eric Alexander: tenor saxophone; Dafnis Prieto: drums; Jeff Carney: acoustc bass; Yosvanny Terry: alto and soprano saxophone (8, 9); Arturo Stable: hand percussion and tumbadores (9, 10); Ferenc Nemeth: drums (5).
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.