jazmusic.com CD Review: Oscar Perez - Nuevo Comienzo: Afropean Affair

by C.J Bond
: Afro-Cuban Latin Jazz

Label: Chandra Records

Musicians: Oscar Perez - piano / Fender Rhodes; Greg Glassman - trumpet / flugelhorn; Stacy Dillard - tenor / soprano saxophones; Anthony Perez - bass; Jerome Jennings - drums; Emiliano Valerio - percussion; Charenee Wade - vocals.
Oscar Perez - Nuevo Comienzo
CD Review: Oscar Perez's CD: Nuevo Comienzo - Afropean Affair, showcases new, exciting developments, and the brilliant cutting edge concepts of uber-talented young musicians, currently populating the Afro-Caribbean Latin Jazz scene. Pianist Oscar Perez sits firmly on the crest of this progressive movement. "Afropean Affair" is a dance of fiery circles rising out of Perez's European, African, American and Caribbean influences, with an intensity fueled by energy from teachers like Post-Latin Jazz, iconic musicians such as Panamanian pianist Danilo Perez and keyboard master Chick Correa.

"Nuevo Comiezo (New beginnings) - Afropean Affair" is replete with harmonic and melodic richness in the opening mix of effulgent, hot-bop-inspired horn sounds from Greg Glassman (trumpet), Stacy Dillard (Saxophone), and the band's engaging, authentic Latin-Jazz rhythm section. Stacy Dillard does double duty adding the body, breadth and succulence that prepare the listener's musical palate for (The Illusive Number) of rhythmic condiments enriching this sophisticated, savory, melodious stew.

There are seven original compositions on the CD, which add extra strata of modernity, freshness and innovative fascination, quite in keeping with the forward-looking concepts embedded in the band's stated mission of a "New Beginning." Other transparent features are cohesiveness and collective, improvisational ability (Canario), as Perez's poignant piano leads and supports each player through on-the-move compositions, painting uncontrived colors that weave and swirl provocatively between the Latin and jazz genres.

The ensemble's rich tapestry of sounds is expanded in the even, steadfast flow of (As Brothers Would), a composition by Perez that is almost elegiac in graceful simplicity, yet subtly expressing a heartfelt, emotional kinship achieved as a result of their seven-year professional association. This piece provides a spring board to other interesting textures and colors (Paths and Streams), that flow from Greg Glassman's flugelhorn during an energetic exchange of ideas with saxophonist Stacy Dillard, and Oscar Perez's authoritative, straight ahead keyboard immersion into the jazz idiom.

The addition of vocalist Charenee Wade brings the compelling beauty of added lyricism to the CD's centerpiece: The Afropean Suite; a set of three extended compositions, commissioned by Chamber Music America, and premiered at theJazz Gallery in September 2009. It brings all the influences of composer Perez through a three-piece progression, integrated with exotic vocal colors from Charenee Wade. The first piece (Cosas Lindas Que Viven Ahora)is bathed with a signature, swaying wordless Brazilian-style glow by Wade, as the band flows seamlessly between a jazz and Latin tempo connecting two genres with a double tether of avant garde ideas from Perez's piano and Anthony Perez's(Oscar's brother) bass. The second movement (Last Season's Sorrow), obtains a complete change of mood and tempo, with ensemble and voice painting even, flowing, lyrical colors with noiseless depth. The third movement is a beautifully choreographed harmonic dance of piano, voice, percussion and horns (A New Day Emerging) with a repeating inter mixture of patterns that develop gradually and deliberately to a climax.

"Afropean" combines the most striking aspects Afro-Caribbean Jazz, Post-Latin Jazz and straight ahead modern jazz. It is exciting, electrifying, and its compositions reflect a refreshing, imaginative boldness that augur well for the artistic future of this boundary-stretching group of musicians, and listeners in general.

Track Listing: The Illusive Number; Canaria; As Brothers Would; Paths and Streams; The Afropean Suite: Cosas Lindas Que Viven Ahora - Last Season's Sorrow - A New Day Emerging.

Recorded and mastered by Paul Wickliffe  at Skyline Productions Warren NJ

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