While nothing is predictable or certain about improvisation, when the piano magician Carolyn Hume meets the vocal wonder Katja Cruz there is one thing we can be sure about. They will create a haunting, hypnotising, mesmerising atmosphere full of suspense and ghostly images that will linger in your memory forever. This is both the magic and mystery of making music. Carolyn Hume's previous four Leo-albums with the drummer Paul May created a user friendly variant of free jazz that was both tuneful and fashionable. Similarly, these ten, mostly improvised solo piano pieces prove impeccably ambient and easy on the ear, even when the notes are discordant,they make very attractive patterns as they fall.
The final recording of the mighty Queen of Salsa's career, Regalo del Alma was certainly in keeping with the exuberant, joyful tone that her enormous fan base has come to expect from her. With stylistic influences and production value a bit more modern than one might expect from a legend whose recording career has spanned 45 years, this album will hook yet another generation on Celia Cruz's regal, earthy presence. Cruz is joined by a cast of consummate professionals including producer Sergio George, percussionists Marc Quiñones and Luis Quintero, and many of the usual suspects that one might expect to find on a record of this caliber. These contemporary masters bring a freshness to the project that is invigorating.
Evencio Castellanos is one of Venezuela's best-known composers, notable not least as one of the groundwork-makers for that country's much-lauded "sistema" of music education. This album presents some of his best-known works, idiomatically and enthusiastically performed by the Orquesta Sinfonica de Venezuela under Jan Wagner. All three works are nationalistic, with plucked strings stating popular Venezuelan rhythms and melodies against various orchestral backdrops.
Catalan folk singer Sílvia Pérez Cruz and the Javier Colina Trío (Colina on bass, Albert Sanz on piano, and Marc Miralta on the drums), plus guest saxophonist Perico Sambeat, revisit the Cuban songbook in the gorgeous En la Imaginación. Four years in the making, this genuine labor of love reimagines classics of the bolero, filin, and son, such as "Debí Llorar" and "Ella y Yo" in a jazz trio-and-voice setting.