It’s time to catch up with some albums that may have gotten lost in the shuffle.
Edsel Gomez: Road to Udaipur
On his May release from Zoho Records, Road to Udaipur, pianist Edsel Gomez works with a variety of musicians in different combinations on an energetic, harmonically inventive 13-track set of music. It is a set, Gomez says in the liner notes, heavily influenced by Chick Corea and Eddie Palmieri. The Corea touch can be heard as Gomez (perhaps with apologies to Vivaldi) takes a tour through “Four Seasons and a Five.”
Standout tracks include the opener “Tertulia Samba,” an arrangement of Gomez’s “Tertulia” with dynamic solo work from Brazilian saxophonist Cassio Ferreira. This is followed by the Indian focus of “Udaipur” with Gomez strutting his stuff along with Alex Ayala playing games on upright bass and Bruce Cox on drums.
“Homesick Nostalgia” is a lovely melodic ballad in keeping with its title. “Charles Chaplin” is a quirky homage to the film star, one that captures his sometimes quirky film persona. It features a lot of what the liner notes call “eccentric” scatting from flautist Roberto Pitre Vazquez. Elsewhere, the Brazilian-inspired “Bahia” plays with dissonance in a truly interesting arrangement.
Finally, “Span-ished Cubes (For Chick Corea)” is a complex cubist – to use the Gomez term – deconstruction of Corea’s “Spain.” For Gomez, cubist music is analogous to what Picasso was doing in art.
Alex Conde: Descarga for Monk
A descarga is a kind of Latin-flavored jam session. It is the perfect word to describe what Spanish pianist Alex Conde is doing with the music of Thelonious Monk on his debut release for Zoho, Descarga for Monk. The concept for the album, Conde explains in the liner notes, originated in his feeling that he would like to hear Monk’s music adapted to flamenco rhythms. “I thought,” Conde says, “I would love to see a flamenco dancer put footwork to that melody.” That melody is “Played Twice,” and it is the piece that opens the new album. It is a clear demonstration that Conde was on to something. Flamenco Monk works.
Conde fronts a quartet featuring John Santos (percussion), Jeff Chambers (bass), and Jon Arkin (drums). Amparo Conde and Carmen Carrasco add some Latin spice with hand claps and foot stomps on “Played Twice” and “Ugly Beauty.” Altogether they tackle eight pieces, and the ninth track is an elegant Conde solo version of “Pannonica.” There are sweet takes on “Bemsha Swing” and “‘Round Midnight,” and when they want to, the quartet can swing. Take their work on “Monk’s Dream.”
Carol Saboya, Antonio Adolpho, and Hendrik Meurkens: Copa Village
Copa Village is the collaborative effort of three musicians central to the exploration of Brazilian music and jazz: vocalist Carol Saboya, composer/arranger/pianist Antonio Adolpho and harmonica/vibraphonist Hendrik Meurkens.
Brazilian-born Saboya has a gorgeous voice, and her vocals are transcendent. She takes a song like Jobim’s venerable “The Girl from Ipanema,” which opens the album, and reinvents it harmonically. Meurkens adds some creative solo harmonica work.
Saboya and Meurkens also work out an exciting exploration of the other Jobim classic on the disc, “Agua de Beber.” In all, the album includes five Jobim pieces. Originals by Adolpho and Meurkens, and one collaboration, the album’s title song, round out the 11-song set. The album closes with Adolpho’s “Visao,” and some terrific vocalise from Saboya.
Pat Bianchi Trio: A Higher Standard
Talented Hammond organist Pat Bianchi leads guitarist Craig Ebner and drummer Byron Landham through an eclectic 10-tune set featuring a couple of show tunes, some classic jazz pieces, two original compositions, a Brasil ’66 cover, and even a Stevie Wonder hit on this June release. The tunes run from the mellow strains of “Without a Song” to the rapid fire pace of Oscar Pettiford’s “Bohemia After Dark,” and from the introspection of Bill Evans’ “Very Early” to the atmosphere-drenched “So Many Stars.” This is a varied selection of material that has something for everyone.
The Bianchi originals stand out even among the outstanding covers. “Will of Landham” gives both Bianchi and Ebner a chance to stretch before setting up Landham for a dynamite ending. “Blues Minus One” is a pleasant toe tapper with some witty phrasing. They do a brisk take on Coltrane’s “Satellite” and end the set with a funky version of “From the Bottom of My Heart.”
There is nothing like a good organ trio. The Pat Bianchi Trio is a very good organ trio.
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