Between Loves is the debut recording of Uruguay-born tenor saxophonist/composer Florencia Gonzalez for the ZOHO record label. Now transplanted to New York, the album is an attempt to find something of an ideal center between musical passions old and new. “It is not,” as Gonzalez explains in the liner notes, “music from the North or South, nor from ‘here’ or ‘there.’ It is in between, between loves.” The love she is talking about is the love of music, “the kind that touches us in a very deep place in our souls.” And while it is a love that grows and changes as one grows and changes, one’s early loves leave an indelible mark—old loves, first loves are, as she puts it, “never left behind.”
The album’s title song (one of six original compositions), which stands as the concluding track, defines the theme in its harmonic structure built on two chords, “two poles in constant change.” “Two poles,” she continues, “that’s the idea of this album, and one torn between these two loves.” The musical structure becomes a symbolic expression of the album’s theme. But even more importantly, the tune makes for an eloquent merging of the two loves, as indeed are all of the Gonzalez compositions. This is a composer who writes the kind of music you want to listen to.
Gonzalez leads a sextet featuring Jonathan Powell on trumpet and flugelhorn, Shannon Barnett on trombone and a rhythm section of pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Fernando Huergo and drummer Franco Pinna. They begin the album with an arrangement of the lone piece by another composer, Uruguayan Hugo Fattoruso’s “Hurry.” It offers the horns an opportunity to work with some interesting rhythmic complexities and makes for a strong opener.
“Woman Dreaming of Escape,” which follows, is a quirky blend of tango and Stravinsky. Gonzalez’s goal, she says was to write “a sort of abstract tango.” “Zamba for Jose Gervasio,” which reflects back on the songs of her youth, is a sweet reminiscence of her early musical loves, while “The One Who Never Was,” a complex, harmonically rich study dedicated to John Coltrane, is a tribute to the new love. Once again, between them represents the two musical poles.
“Pericon Raro” (“Weird Pericon”), the first movement of a work for larger orchestra in progress, and “Chacarera for Greg,” based on country dances originally written for a big band round out this fine debut.
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