This self-titled album is a fitting tribute to Touré’s and Diabaté’s genius and friendship, and is a beautiful farewell.
Chucho Valdes is easily the living king of Cuban jazz piano. This anthology, issued by the premier Bele Bele Jazz Club label from Spain, is an overview of the roots of the pianist's development as both an interpreter of classic Cuban material and as an improviser. The first 12 tracks on the set, recorded in 1970, borrow heavily from the "feelings" movement of Cuban dancehall music from the late '40s and early '50s, with numerous compositions by Jose Mendez and Cesar Portillo de la Luz. There are also trademark Valdes originals such as his own "Preludio No. 1," based on Debussy's. Other tracks here, from 1982, borrow from the later dancehall traditions and lineages such as the "Evocations" series written by Jesus Valdez including one for Josh White! The first 12 cuts features Valdes with a stellar rhythm section that included bassist Orlando Lopez (Cachaito) and drummer Enrique Pla, and the last eight are solo.
Schubert's 'Wanderer Fantasy' and Schumann's 'Fantasie' are two highly remarkable works: while musically embodying the romantic spirit of the age in their unconventional structures and lyrically imaginative styles, they also act as self-portraits to their creators through the evocation of their creative process. In these new orchestrations by Joseph James, the familiar beauty of the works is rekindled in exciting and fresh interpretations performed by the illustrious English Chamber Orchestra alongside concertante solos from members of the Schubert Ensemble.
Extempore II is the second collaboration between two quartets in widely varying fields: the early music specialist vocal group Orlando Consort and the jazz combo Perfect Houseplants. This project is structured as a mass in honor of St. Michael based around the medieval tune L'homme armé and various members of both groups are responsible for the pieces that make up the whole. The resulting patchwork arrangement of ideas works better in the second half of the program than it does in the first, where the variety of approaches seems a bit disorderly in terms of overall flow.
Prodigious pianist Harold López-Nussa has come full circle. With numerous acclaimed recordings, and acknowledged as a seasoned performer on international stages, he returns home and records El Viaje in Havana, Cuba, offering musical insights on the world through his piano. Continuing with his established trio format, which includes his brother Ruy Adrián López-Nussa on drums and Senegalese bassist Alune Wade, he improvises upon vast classical influences while adhering to his Cuban roots, concocting an exceptional style of global jazz.