Jazz saxophonist and composer Darryl Yokley pays homage to Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky on his project, ‘Pictures at an African Exhibition’. Mussorgsky’s inspiration for “Pictures at an Exhibition” came from artist Viktor Hartmann. For this project, Yokley collaborated with artist David Emmanuel Noel for this similarly titled work. Almost five years since studio recording and three years since the album’s release, Darryl Yokley speaks to his Sound Reformation colleagues Zaccai Curtis, Luques Curtis, Wayne Smith Jr, and guest David Emmanuel Noel regarding the project. The album also features Nasheet Waits and a wind ensemble.
Occhi Feature: Acclaimed Singer Songwriter Eva Cortes Releases ‘Todas Las Voces’
- December 4, 2020
Eva Cortes delivers a breathtaking performance in her newest release entitled Todas Las Voces. The melodies, the harmonies, the lyrics… they all mix perfectly to form a tapestry of emotions that leave the speaker speechless. Cortes forms an amazing cast of supporting musicians including the legendary bassist Christian McBride, special guest Luques Curtis playing bass on tracks 1 and 4, Elio Villafranca on piano, Roman Filiu on saxophone, Doug Beavers on trombone, Luisito Quintero on percussion, and Eric Harland on drums.
The album is filled with some amazing lyrics that are filled with so much emotional depth that one can tell Cortes has definitely lived a life full of experiences. The title track Todas las Voces opens up the album that mixes proponents of flamenco and tango, which culminates into an inspired waltz with catchy harmonic changes. Guest artist Luques Curtis takes a breathtaking solo that shows why he’s one of the most sought after bassists on the scene today.
“Desterrado” is an Afro-Cuban groove that has a dark seductive nature to it. Cortes’s sultry voice floats over everchanging harmonic landscapes that teeter between an ominous feel and a state of euphoria. “Hills of silver” is a very interesting song, with the lyrics juxtaposed to the harmonies underlying them, and a piano interlude that one could imagine taking place in a Schoenberg song. Some exquisite trading takes place between McBride on bass and pianist Elio Villafranca. The tune definitely takes some interesting twists and turns that make you wonder what’s coming next! The mesmerizing “Gracias a la Vida” features a soulful duet between Cortes and saxophonist Roman Filiu throughout with both singing from their respective instruments. The reflective feel of “Letters and picture frames” is embodied in the neo-soul reminiscent of the funk music of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Christian McBride unabashedly shows his propensity for this style of music with one of the funkiest solos. “Bird on a String” starts with a rubato feel with Cortes effortlessly playing with the contour of the melody and the words as she is accompanied by the piano. A bossa like feel ensues and the playful nature of this tune shines through.
Eric Harland’s virtuosic solo at the end is truly a work of art, bringing this tune to an end. McBride starts “Out of Worlds” with a dainty bassline that forms the basis for this reggae like tune. With moments of sonoric suspense, the ebb and flow of this tune are to be admired. Beavers delivers a melodic infused solo that feels good as it sits right in the pocket. “Solo le Pido a Dios” is a homage to the creator and truly embodies the essence of Cortes not only as an artist but as a human. McBride wrote about Cortes saying “Perhaps most impressive is that she understands who she is, she understands her sound, and she embraces it” and I believe this statement truly rings true in this composition amongst all of the gems on this album. Another funk-reggae tune comes to the forefront in the optimistic “Let me believe.” The positive message that comes through can easily be used to start anyone’s day on a good note, and it is a joy to listen to. McBride takes it home with a downhome blues that comes through in an all too brief solo at the end. The final track of the album “Peace” by the late great Horace Silver, is done in a slow bolero like fashion, the tranquility of this selection is a perfect way to end the album.
I am very honored to have had the chance to experience the music on this album. The artistry on display by Eva Cortes and all the artists involved is something truly remarkable to behold. In a year that has been marred with the loss of life due to the pandemic and a country torn in two, it is a breath of fresh air to hear an album that recognizes the world we live in as it is, but still has hope for a brighter future. Thank you, Eva Cortes!
To buy the album or for further information please visit the following links:
The album is brought to you by Truth Revolution Recording Collective.
Images: Courtesy of TRRC
Hosted by Jose Masso
This afternoon our third guest, Mitch Frohman, the talented saxophonist and flutist who runs the Mambo Legends, and a 25-year member of the Puente Orchestra, will join me. He is also a veteran of the legendary Mongo Santamaria band, an original member of the Spanish Harlem Orchestra and is the leader of The Bronx Horns.
A hot organ intro accompanies the simple, fifty-two second, folk-dance breeze of “Folks Jam” before sweeping you into the grander, ballroom dance that is “V for Vena.” It’s an alluring intro to trumpeter/flugelhornist Rachel Therrien’s fifth album as a leader.
You quickly hear the beauty of Therrien’s playing: there’s no need to nerdily testify which horn she’s playing on any given solo (even if you could spot the difference). Just gasp and when she’s done soaring or imploring, move on to the next tune. There’s something waiting for you there too, because her European Quartet of pianist Daniel Gassin, drummer Mareike Wiening and cameo saxophonist Irving Acao make it so.
Dances that are equal parts hypnotic gambol and anxious interplay (played with Cuban resonances) are the highlights of Vena. Among them the driving pull of “Assata” and the lush and expansive solo on “V for Vena.” “Pigalle” is a kick-in-time turn with bassist Guiebert. “Women” is a duet of wit with Wiening. “Emilio” is a lovely ballad.
As the title track dissolves into the glistening, dream-bop of “Parity,” Therrien displays an unerring knack for restraint and for players who put their soul into the music. Any of the fifteen shape-shift-on-a-whim compositions could have become something else and gone another way. But they didn’t. And that’s why Vena is what it is: a disc you should be listening to.
With the coronavirus pandemic, global economic uncertainty and the prospect of a chaotic and divisive election, a lot of us have been feeling anxious lately. Ian Carey can relate. As the Bay Area trumpeter and composer wrote in the liner notes to Fire In My Head: The Anxiety Suite (Slow & Steady 12; 49:24 ***), he’s been struggling with anxiety his “whole life,” and the music on the album is his “five-part [attempt] to translate that emotional cyclone into music.”
Recorded by his Quintet + 1, The Anxiety Suite is a tightly wound concept album, with a mix of through-composed and improvised passages that keep the music’s emotional flow focused while giving the players plenty of room to stretch. In addition to Carey’s cool, lyrical trumpet, the winds include Sheldon Brown on bass clarinet and Kasey Knudsen on alto saxophone, a timbral combination that often makes the ensemble sound bigger than it is. There’s an admirable amount of freedom in the way bassist Fred Randolph and drummer Jon Arkin keep time, particularly with the playful 3/4 of “IV. Internal Exile,” and the solos—particularly Brown’s rangy, impassioned statement on “III. Thought Spirals”—are powerful and emotionally cogent.
In recent years, trumpeter Farnell Newton’s albums have seemed to reflect a split personality. On one hand, the Portland-based brass player seems perfectly comfortable in a straightahead, post-bop setting, blazing away in the tradition of Woody Shaw and Freddie Hubbard on his 2017 release Back To Earth. On the other hand, he simultaneously released an album of hip-hop flavored recordings in conjunction with dance-music producer Toranpetto.
Rippin’ & Runnin’ (Posi-Tone 8206; 46:03 ***) sort of squares the difference. As with Back To Earth, the tunes are solidly grounded in the sound and aesthetic of hard-bop, but the rhythm section—organist Brian Charette and drummer Rudy Royston—powers things with the sort of groove that would be the pride of any chicken shack. There’s a nice edge to the more boppish tunes, and tenorist Brandon Wright shines on “Another Day Another Jones.” But the band as a whole is at its most appealing on groovers like “The Roots” and the fatback blues of “Gas Station Hot Dog,” where the rhythm section carries most of the weight.
There’s also organ on John Sneider’s The Scrapper (Cellar 072619; 58:38 ***1/2), but little in the way of fatback. Instead, this album—his second in 20 years—finds the New York-based session player working solidly in the ’60s Blue Note tradition, with a heavy nod to Lee Morgan, Blue Mitchell and Kenny Dorham. The playing is solid and swinging, and Sneider’s consistently tasteful improvisation is well matched by the soulful polish of tenorist Joel Frahm and rhythmic spice of organist Larry Goldings.
But it’s guest vocalist Andy Bey who takes this album to another level. He joins for the Miles Davis chestnut “Solar” and immediately assumes command, taking the first solo and raising the bar for everyone with his inventive and erudite scat singing. A pity there’s not more of him on The Scrapper.
Canada has produced a striking range of trumpet greats, from Maynard Ferguson to Kenny Wheeler. And in recent years we can add the singular Ingrid Jensen, free-jazz poet Lina Allemano, singer/trumpeter Bria Skonberg and avant-garde experimentalist Steph Richards to that list. Rachel Therrien might not have garnered as much attention as her fellow Canadians, but that could change if Vena (Bonsaï 200201; 50:21 ****) is any indication.
Currently based in New York—but much in demand across the Atlantic—the bandleader recorded Vena with her European ensemble, and makes much of her rich, dark tone and brash phrasing. Yes, there is organ featured on a couple tracks, but most of the work here relies on piano, double bass, drums and Therrien’s deeply songful phrasing. Keyboardist Daniel Gassin and bassist Dario Guibert parry her solos with grace and wit, while the redoubtable Mareike Wiening ensures that when drums are called for, the music will be swinging. DB
Trumpeter/flugelhornist Rachel Therrien’s collected 15 original compositions for VENA (Bonsaï), which is set for release March 27.
“The letter V is significant to me. I was struck by the formation birds make when they migrate; they fly in a perfect ‘V’ onward to their next destination. By flying this way, the birds are able to assist each other in achieving a longer distance,” Therrien said while discussing “V For Vena,” which debuts below. “With this new project, I feel like I’m flying in a new direction with the support of this wonderful group, just like those birds. Also, Vena is my fifth album, which is signified by the Roman numeral ‘V.’”
To view the entire article by Downbeat, click here.
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