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Oscar Hernandez & Alma Libre: Vision

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Oscar Hernandez & Alma Libre: Vision
Multiple Grammy Award-winning Latin jazz pianist/composer and band leader Oscar Hernandez and his group, Alma Libre (Free Spirit) issue another shoulder-moving album presenting more of the rhythms he and his bands are so well known for. A true Latin music legend, Hernandez is best regarded for his direction of the 13-piece Spanish Harlem Orchestra that has gathered three Grammy Awards. This album was, in essence, a product of the pandemic situation. Hernandez says: "Recording this album was a way to react positively, and to counteract the negative circumstances surrounding the pandemic."

As a result, Los Angeles-based Alma Libre went into the studio in May, 2021 to record ten dazzling compositions. Featuring longtime colleague Justo Almario who provides all the saxophone and flute voices on the album. Other members include drummer Jimmy Branly, bassist Oskar Cartaya and percussionist Christian Maraga. To enrich and energize the sound, the pianist also adds the great vibraphonist Joe Locke, trumpeter Aaron Janik and Luisito Quintero on timbales and percussion as special guests.

Though a Latin jazz format for sure, should you listen with a discerning ear, you will hear elements of the modern contemporary jazz sound throughout the session. The title track kicks off the music in swinging fashion showcasing the Latin rhythms that will reverberate from this point on. "Ritmo Pa' Ti" feature the sax and trumpet sounds along with the customary percussions that make Latin music so familiar. On "Donia Provi" Hernandez performs a beautiful light intro on the piano before Almario steps in on the flute in this Danzon-styled number dedicated to the pianist's mother.

Another dedication, this time to the late great Chick Corea, "Chick Forever" is one swinging burner featuring the saxophonist, the drummer and the leader on outstanding solo moments in one of those tracks that's not quite an all-Latin tune, containing plenty of modern jazz elements, too.

One more composition revealing the contemporary jazz sound over the Latin-flavored theme of the album is "Make the Move," with Almario on the alto and trumpeter Janik leading the music on a plain straight-ahead piece of terrific jazz. The following "Tributo al son" returns the group to the theme of the set displaying the beats and rhythms of the Latin sound the band is primed to play. After forging through three additional Latin-styled numbers, the music comes to splendid end with "Virtually Here," a track that swings from Latin to modern in a balance and taste of both resulting in a delicious finale.

Track Listing

Vision; Ritmo Pa' Ti; Dona Provi; Chick Forever; Make the Move; Tributo al Son; Don't stop Now; Spring; So Believe It; Virtually Here.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Vision | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Ovation Records


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