Pianist Manuel Valera merges a classical woodwind quintet with his traditional jazz quartet on a whirlwind of original adventure and swing. His chamber jazz ambience has been influenced by classical composers such as Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky and Shostakovich but Valera has replaced the French horn from the classical idiom with a bass clarinet, giving a different texture to his ensemble. Five selections feature the jazz quartet aloneJoel Frahm (soprano and tenor saxophones), James Genus (bass) and Ernesto Simpson (drums)while another seven pieces find them merged with the chamber ensemble.
Originally from Cuba, where he studied classical music as a saxophone major, Valera moved to New York where he switched to piano and immersed himself in the eclectic Big Apple musical arts scene. As a twenty-something jazz innovator, he's sure of himself and by integrating jazz and blues with classical winds, he's created a festive affair with plenty of soul. You can feel tango, mambo and rhapsody integrated with the swinging jazz textures.
The album's title means winds in Spanish and in his liner notes, Valera points out that he considered a double meaning when he put this album together, since his music has adopted a flowing, wind-like feel. The addition of oboe, flute, clarinet, bassoon and bass clarinet produces a clarion sonority that moves freely with ease. Throughout the session, Valera and Frahm float melodies that intertwine eloquently. The woodwinds do, indeed, lend a lovely blanket of sound that wraps up this recommended album with a sure twist of affection.
Track Listing: Vientos; A la Interperie; So You Say; Danzón para Lisa; Rapsodia; Azulado; Infancia; Comienzo; Home; Elegea; For Those Who Have Left; Vejéz.
Personnel: Manuel Valera: piano, Fender Rhodes electric piano; Joel Frahm: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; James Genus: double bass; Ernesto Simpson: drums; Aaron Heick: oboe, English horn; Anne Drummond: flute, alto flute; Anat Cohen: clarinet; Charles Pillow: bass clarinet, English horn (8); Michael Rabinowitz: bassoon.
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. After going through Rock 'n Roll, the Beatles and Heavy Metal/Hard Rock phases over the next eight or so years, I finally bought my first jazz album; We're All Together Again for the First Time by Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan. I was hooked on jazz, and still am 40+ years later.
I moved from England to the USA in 2002, and founded the Brookfield Jazz Society in 2005.
I became editor of the quarterly IAJRC Journalin 2012. The magazine goes to the worldwide membership of the IAJRC (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors) and many major libraries and educational establishments around the world.
As well as being the editor of the IAJRC Journal, I write about jazz and review CDs, vinyl, DVDs and books on jazz.
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