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Music Review: Hilario Duran Trio – Motion

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The album Motion creates different moods ranging from a soft and smooth piano, to hard driven drum solos; its Latin mood floats throughout the whole album. Motion feels more like this trio created a very strong setlist for a concert where all the pieces intertwine, but have their own original flavors. Hilario Duran is an amazing pianist and composer and his decades of work in the music industry shine through the album’s eight tracks.

Motion is a fun, well-paced album. The first track, “It’s Only Seven,” introduces several elements that become the standard throughout the album. The song plays with tempos and will abruptly change pace while magically staying on the same course; this composition style resonates through all eight tracks. The Latin flair that Hilario Duran is known for shines even without his Latin Jazz big band last heard on his previous album, From the Heart, and the trio, occasionally accompanied by one or two guest musicians, fills the space well. The album closes with “Timba en Trampa,” which has a similar feel and composition, but creates different colors.

While the album flirts with 7/4 beats and fast tempos, Motion never gets overly frantic. The title track starts off very fast and quickly makes tempo shifts, bringing visuals of driving down a busy city while passing by different forms of culture, but not being able to stop because everyone is already late. I love how the song easily shifts between fast and silky. The trio manage to play at a fast tempo in several of their songs, in fact, without running off the tracks.

A song like “Havana City” proves the talent of the trio, displaying the variety in their compositions. Here you are immediately flown into the city though the track’s opening strings. The song is very smooth, with the accompanying vocals of Joaquin Hidalgo emphasizing the mood. While the song is more than 10-minutes long, it doesn’t drag or get repetitive; the piano is original and creative throughout. “Danza Negra” stays mid-tempo for its duration, exploring a little bit of African undertones.

All three musicians — Hilario Duran, bassist Roberto Occhipinti, and drummer Mark Kelso — work beautifully together and gel with each other. The best song that shows the synergy between them has to be “Tango Moruno,” with each instrument filling just the right space. Even in the quieter sections, one can feel the energy building. In both “For Emiliano” and “Motion” drummer Mark Kelso gets a solo and they perfectly in their arrangements. Why the two drum solos are near the end of both songs is beyond me as Kelso’s drumming could open a song without being distracting or too noisy. The best solo from bassist Roberto Occhipinti comes from “Danza Negra” and it becomes the heart of the track. “For Emiliano” starts off with a beautiful piano solo, and it made me wish that Hilario Duran included one bonus track that was just a straight piano composition because the minute of playing in the introduction just wasn’t enough.

Any fan of Latin Jazz will easily be enthused to pick up Motion. The group has evolved since their 2005 album, New Danzon. From beginning to end their latest is arranged well, starting off with a bang and ending with one as well. Hilario Duran is a master at the piano and the confidence with which he plays shows all through the album. While all of its tracks are standouts, particularly notable are “Tango Moruno” for its teamwork and composition and “Motion” for being able to shift tempo on the turn of a dime. The Hilario Duran Trio are great at what they do while creating vivid images through their music.

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