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Rai Castells Quintet: Welcome

Mark Sullivan By

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Spanish guitarist/composer Rai Castells graduated from the Berklee College of Music. He has had other projects, but this is the debut recording of his new quintet with saxophonist Miguel Pintxo Villar, pianist Max Villavecchia, bassist Jordi Gaspar and drummer Jordi Gardeñas. The material is all composed by Castells.

"Around The Planet" begins the set with an upbeat ostinato-based modal tune, establishing the tone of the album. Villavecchia stretches out for a long solo, before the leader and saxophonist Villar trade eights. As the title implies, "Cinc" is in five, a relentless groove that softens a bit during the piano solo, which gives way to an accompanied drum solo (shades of the famous Dave Brubeck Quartet tune "Take Five" that popularized that meter in jazz).

The ballad "Missing" is set up by a lovely, unaccompanied guitar solo, and features an especially lyrical double-bass solo (with only piano accompaniment). "Lost" demonstrates how effective the group can be in straight swing mode. "Everything is Possible" closes the program with a gentle ostinato, interrupted first by a piano interlude, then by a saxophone/piano duet, before the whole band brings it home.

A fine debut, the album extends a warm welcome to the listener, highlighting Castells' playing and composing, as well as his excellent band. They play contemporary jazz with bebop roots, and there is ample space for all the players to express themselves.

Track Listing: Around The Planet; Looped Suite; Cinc; Into Something; Missing; Varanasi; Lost; Tetric; Everything is Possible.

Personnel: Rai Castells: guitar; Miguel Pintxo Villar: saxophone; Max Villavecchia: piano; Jordi Gaspar: bass; Jordi Gardeñas: drums.

Title: Welcome | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Another Planet Records

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