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Federico Britos: Voyage

Raul d'Gama Rose By

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Federico Britos: Voyage The world continues to awake to the rising tide of undiscovered music and musicians from the South American paradigm, in an almost ironic kind of reversal of Alejo Carpentier's voyage of musical discovery in his 1953 work, The Lost Steps. As this is going on, the Uruguayan violinist Federico Britos celebrates five decades in the lonely and all-but-forgotten Chair of the Magisterium of South American Music with a spectacular Sunnyside offering, Voyage. This sojourn, documented at several moments in time, is a dazzling journey featuring the violinist who was acknowledged as being virtually untouchable in improvisational virtuosity by the great Jascha Heifetz, as far back as 1959. The album also forms a monumental edifice that pays tribute to the melding of several idioms in improvised music and dance forms that characterize the music of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Britos thrills throughout. His violin soars with sublime glissandi. It flutters and lets out melodious cries of triumph as he invents phrases and lines that revitalize old melodies. Britos ascends great heights of sound filling the silent spaces with speech-like gasps, high and mighty wails, and epic moans that collide to create astounding sounds. These beautiful, definitive arias hover and dance in the waning moments of their own music, as the moments die into the past. However, every moment of each song is a quantum packet of beauteous energy, from "Vivian," an elegiac ballad to his wife, to the irresistibly seductive "Vivian Flavia de las Mercedes." Also standing out is the memorable flamenco call-and-response of "Tomatito y Federico," a duet with the virtuoso Spanish guitarist, Tomatito.

Among the other gems on the album are the luminous versions of "Moonglow" and "Avalon," featuring guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli and a spectacular descarga—a hot Cuban jam—with the late bassist Israel "Cachao" Lopez. There are also two wonderful songs on which Panamanian conguero Giovanni Hidalgo stretches majestically. The first is Rafael Hernandez's "Capullito de Aleli" and the second is a track that closes the album on a high note, "Micro Suite Cubana." On the latter, Hidalgo's virtuosity is almost palpable, and his wonderful solo throws the otherwise calm Britos into a violin frenzy of sorts as he reaches in to the uppermost register of his magnificent instrument, to play trill after trill of almost impossibly high notes with clarity and spectacular effect.

It is impossible to resist superlatives, as Britos engages in triangular and quadrangular conversations with special other guests on Voyage. Bassist Eddie Gomez and pianists Michel Camilo and Kenny Barron thrill to his music and respond in equal measure on "Vivian Flavia de las Mercedes" and "After You've Gone" respectively. The vastly underrated talents of pianist and arranger Carlos Franzetti are also represented here, as is the percussion genius of Ignacio Berroa. These major artists together with a myriad others make Federico Britos' Voyage utterly irresistible.

Track Listing: Vivian; After You've Gone; Vivian Flavia de las Mercedes; Moonglow; Tomatito y Federico; Capullito de Aleli; Las Vegas Station; Lluvia de Colores; Avalon; A Las Cuatro de la Manana; Okey Paganini; Oriente; Micro Suite Cubana.

Personnel: Federico Britos: violin (violin ensemble and soloist 1), arrangements (2-5, 8-12); Carlos Franzetti: piano and arrangements ( 1, 7); Eddie Gomez: double bass (1, 7); Ignacio Berroa: drums (1, 7); Leonardo Suarez Paz: violin (1, 7); Kristof Witek: violin (1, 7); Hector Falcon: violin; Federico Britos: violin (1, 7); Ron Lawrence: viola (1, 7); Zackaria Enikeev: viola (1, 7); Jessy Levy: cello (1, 7); Garo Yellin: cello (1, 7); Kenny Barron: piano (2); Phil Flanigan: double bass (2); Francisco Mela: drums (2); Michel Camilo: piano (3); James Chirillo guitar (4, 9); Jon Burr: double bass (4, 9); Tomatito: guitar (5); Giovanni Hidalgo: congas and chekere (6, 13); Felix Gomez : piano (6, 10, 13), arrangements (6); Eddie "Guagua" Rivera: baby bass (6, 10, 13); Edwin Bonilla: percussion (6, 10, 13); Bucky Pizzarelli: guitar (9); Gaby Vivas: double bass (8, 11, 12); Antonio Adolfo: piano (8); Carlomagno Araya: drums (8); Israel "Cachao" Lopez: double bass; Jorge Vivas: guitar (11, 12); Eric Bogart: drums (11); Rafael Solano: percussion (12); German Piferrer: arrangements (13).

Title: Voyage | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


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