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Manuel Valera & Groove Square: Urban Landscape

C. Michael Bailey By

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Track review of "Gliding"

Cuban keyboardist and composer Manuel Valera presented last with a scorching trio set Live at Firehouse 12 (Mayo Records, 2015). Acoustic and organic, Valera demonstrated is bona fides with mainstream jazz performance. Bringing drummer E.J. Strickland from that and earlier bands, Valera moves into a new project with a new band, Groove Square. He adds the ubiquitous bassist John Benitez to the mix making for a solid rhythm section for Valera to compose and perform over. Decidedly adult contemporary, Urban Landscape is exactly what it purports to be: an urban vision full of funk, groove, and habanera.

The ballad "Gliding," presents an air, ethereal terrain where Valera can share his expansive command of the Fender Rhodes. Featured prominently is Gregoire Maret playing that Latin-tinged harmonica that has become so popular in recent years. Maret and saxophonist John Ellis combine with guitarist Nir Felder to navigate Valera's beautiful but complex composition. Over a simple harmonic base, an involved melody presents and moves with the momentum of slow traffic in the evening. Calm pervades the piece giving it a drowsy feel. This type of jazz, this type of music, is the most difficult to play...slow tempo with involved melody. Valera's not afraid. Oh, no he is not.

Personnel: Manuel Valera: keyboards; John Ellis: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Nir Felder: guitar; John Benitez: bass; E.J. Strickland: drums; Gregoire Maret: harmonica.

Title: Urban Landscape | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Destiny Records

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Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
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The Planets

The Planets

Mavo Records
2018

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The Seasons

The Seasons

Mavo Records
2017

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Urban Landscape

Urban Landscape

Destiny Records
2015

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Live at Firehouse 12

Live at Firehouse 12

Mavo Records
2015

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Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Mavo Records
2014

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Expectativas

Expectativas

Mavo Records
2013

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Date Detail Price
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Manuel Valera Trio
The Jazz Room
Waterloo, Canada
20.00 CAD

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