With his debut big band release, Tramontana, Colombian composer/bandleader Juan Andrés Ospina has created a truly international project, featuring musicians from ten countries as disparate as Greece, Switzerland, Israel, and Columbia. Tramontana is the gale-force wind that lashes Spain's Costa Brava, clearing the skies for sweeping views of the Catalan mountains and sea. This wind inspired music that evokes a similar power, grandeur, and beauty, while offering a satisfying melodic ride from start to finish.
Listeners who studiously avoid all-original CDs need not fear getting mired in any private, self-satisfied noodling; rather, Tramontana features a solid, propulsive coherence, a blend of fire and heart, driven by international rhythms and flair. There is also one standard"Like Someone in Love"which gets an intriguing re-harmonization. While Ospina's careful craftsmanship shows in the construction of each track, there are enough surprises to keep the jazz essence squarely in focus.
Given the level of excellence here, picking highlights is difficult. But if choices are to be made, they must include the soulful and inimitable Paquito D'Rivera's moments on "Todavia No"; the stunning, heartrending vocal by Lucina Pulido on "Ver Llover"; the haunting lyricism of "Recuerdos de un Reloj de Pared" that builds up to a sinuous passion; the musical tension of "102 Fahrenheit" that describes trying to compose under deadline, with a crashing computer, in brutal New York heat (and without air-conditioning). Its final chaos perfectly conveys this frustration, bringing it to a kind of film noir climax.
Again, it makes little sense to point to specific solos, since they are uniformly evocative and excellent. Perhaps the best summary is simply this: the compositions and arrangements are distinctive and imaginative, and, like the Tramontana itself, serve as a strong, fresh wind that reveals exciting new vistas.
Tramontana; Todavía No, feat. Paquito D’Rivera; 102 Fahrenheit; Like Someone in Love; Recuerdos de un Reloj de Pared;
Sam Hoyt: trumpet; Jonathan Powell: trumpet; Brian Davis: trumpet; Guido Gonzalez: trumpet; Michael Fahie:, trombone;
Matthew McDonald: trombone; Malec Heermans: trombone; James Rogers: bass trombone; Hadar Noiberg: flute; Alex
Terrier: soprano sax/alto sax; Uri Gurvich: alto sax/flute; Linus Wyrsch: tenor sax/clarinet; Justin Flynn: tenor sax/clarinet:
Carl Maraghi: baritone sax/ bass clarinet; Carolina Calvache: piano (#1, #3, #4, #5); Nicolás Ospina: piano (#6); Juan
Andrés Ospina: piano (#2); Nadav Remez: guitar; Andrés Rotmistrovsky: electric bass; Marcelo Woloski: percussion; Petros
Klampanis: upright bass (#5); Franco Pinna: drums (#2, #6); Ronen Itzik: drums (#1, #3); Dan Pugach: drums (#4, #5);
Magda Giannikou: accordion (#5); Sofia Ribeiro: voice (#1); Lucia Pulido: voice (#6). SPECIAL GUEST: Paquito D’Rivera:
soprano sax (#2).
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