Sounds Of Space


aec.mack1064.2 3/26/12 New
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Review Text In 2006, the extraordinarily inventive, globally conscious Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez was selected to perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival -- where he was invited to a gathering at the home of the festival's founder/director Claude Nobs, who asked him if he would play for Quincy Jones. Smitten ever since with the young virtuoso, Q not only calls him "one of the most prolific and gifted jazz pianists of the 21st century," but also developed Rodriguez's career and co-produced his rhythmically eclectic debut. Sounds of Space, whose sci-fi title reflects the dynamic personal adventure the pianist embarks on, launches with the multi-movement "Qbafrica," a swirl of hypnotic percussion, plucky bass, and colorful swatches of piano that draw from everything from Brazilian and African to Afro-Cuban and avant-garde jazz. This spirit of cultural unity finds its grounding in the much less frenetic, but still passionate ballad "Sueño de Paseo," a stroll through Havana featuring Ernesto Vega's lyrical soprano sax. Sometimes, titles are cleverly deceiving, as "Silence" is all boom and pluck, driven by throbbing basslines, bouncy percussion, and dark jumpy piano chordings and the title track is less esoteric than driving and hypnotic, with an insistent Latin groove under a whimsical, often spinning sax-piano duality. Another favorite is the frenetic joymaker "Cu-Bop," which celebrates Bud Powell and, for Rodriguez, reflects "how Bob would have sounded in Cuba if he had been born there." This is the kind of multi-cultural fusion that runs thematically through the set, although there are dramatic, off-the-point excursions such as "April," which is a self-contained ambient piano duet that blends jazz and classical tones in an unforgettable way. "Crossing the Border" is a frenetic recounting of a harrowing experience Rodriguez had when he first came to America -- and it's exciting that he found such powerfully percussive ways to express his gratitude for his shot at jazz stardom in the U.S. Jones' good instincts are the Latin jazz world's new good fortune. ~ Jonathan Widran

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Qbafrica - 5:19
  2. 2. Sueño de Paseo - 4:52
  3. 3. Silence - 5:03
  4. 4. Cu-Bop - 5:30
  5. 5. April - 6:20
  6. 6. Oxygen - 6:49
  7. 7. Sounds of Space - 5:44
  8. 8. Crossing the Border - 7:45
  9. 9. ...Y Bailaría La Negra? - 7:52
  10. 10. Transculturation - 4:15
  11. 11. Fog - 5:52

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