(Creative Nation Music CNM023)
“ReContraDoble”, so pianist and composer Pablo Ablanedo tells me in the cover note, “refers to two pairs of voices which are always moving in contrary motion like distorted images of each other”.
I’m not sure I can always precisely hear it in the thoroughly delightful music on this album, but certainly the sense of layers of instruments gliding and sliding over each other in interesting and richly rhythmic ways is always a key feature.
Ablanedo was born in Buenos Aires, went to the US to study at Berklee and after graduating in jazz composition has settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This album was recorded near there apart from an added vocal on one track from Katie Viqueira recorded in Buenos Aires.
The opener, Mirando al Cielo, is a fine introduction to the band: flute, trumpet (sometimes two), two saxophones, guitar, piano, bass, drums and percussion (so not really an octet(o) but more like a nonet(o) or even a tenet(o)!) A group of this size is a peach of a vehicle for a composer, able to exploit the complex textures of a small jazz orchestra and yet maintain the fleet-footedness of a small combo.
The tunes are mainly Ablanedo’s and bridge jazz and tango beautifully. Departido features horns and then flute over a rolling piano and bass pattern which then breaks down into horn cycles over percussion with solo and combination horns popping out to lead them. The short title track has more of that Gil Evans mix of timbres that comes from adding flute to trumpets and saxophones, but this time they are over an electric bass solo and percussion. Como Te Quiero has a Maria Schneider feel about the melody and horn voicings.
The two covers are a gorgeous interpretation of Charlie Haden’s Silence, which is basically an extended, eloquent solo by guitarist Eric Hofbauer over an ebbing and flowing orchestration; and a witty 6/8 interpretation of Lennon/McCartney’s Norwegian Wood with lush woodwinds underpinning the melody with a variation on Miles’s All Blues riff.
All the writing and arrangements are so clearly articulated and finely wrought that there is plenty of space in the music and absolutely no confusion in the listener’s mind as to what the point of it all is. And yet, despite that precision, there is a lovely relaxed and loose naturalness to the music. The playing is all exemplary with Ablanedo giving his band the solos and doing that composerly thing of staying in the background.
This album has been out for a while and arrived belatedly in my postbox without fanfare and completely free of PR hype. I wasn’t previously aware of any of the musicians on it, though I understand trumpeter Phil Grenadier is bassist Larry’s brother. It’s these kind of lovely surprises that make this job even more worthwhile.
- There is more about Pablo Ablanedo here.
- To buy the Pablo Ablanedo Octet(o)’s ReContraDoble go here.
Categories: CD review