Diego Barber – Calima (2009)
FLAC (tracks+.cue) | Tracks: 8 | Playtime: 00:63:59 | Size: 403 MB
Genre: Post-Bop, Contemporary Jazz | Label: Sunnyside Communications | Cat#: SSC 1210
Young acoustic guitarist Diego Barber reflects his experiences living in Spain, Greece, and Germany with a classically oriented set of contemporary jazz rooted in — but not beholden to — flamenco and traditional Baroque sounds. The liner notes make reference to the Saharan Air Layer, “an intensely warm, dry, and sometimes dust-laden” part of the atmosphere over the Atlantic Ocean that originates in the Sahara Desert region of North Africa, at times reaching the Canary Islands. So naturally, you’d expect this music to be airy, floating, and breezy, bereft of jagged edges as it drifts back and forth from sea to sand. At the music’s base, Barber uses progressive elements and variations mastered by Ralph Towner, but it is refined in a different way, less pyrotechnical or dazzling. In a deft, crystalline fashion, Barber and American friends bassist Larry Grenadier, drummer Jeff Ballard (from Brad Mehldau’s group), and saxophonist Mark Turner give account of their notions in a completely relaxed fashion, rarely showy, always flowing like natural elements, playing consistently beautiful music together. Calima’s first track, “Piru,” sets a romantic and gorgeous tone, with pretty repeat lines and chords, only occasional flourishes, and a wafting swing with Turner coming in late. “190 East,” the guitarist in a trio setting, is at once thematic, somewhat cinematic, climactic but unhurried with slight harmonics and minimalism to build upon. In a duet with Ballard on “Richi,” Barber’s rolling fingerstyle playing shows his classical training mixed with folk roots. The closest parallels to Towner appear on “Desierto,” as Turner’s sax floats by like clouds in blue skies before resorting to swing, while “Lanzarote” is more contemporary and current. Speaking of up to date, the idea of playing hipper music is not beyond Barber, as the title track is in a funkier style with some edge, while the guitar/sax/drums format on “Virgianna” is closer to rock via Ballard’s straight beats. The recording ends curiously with a 21-minute seemingly spontaneous composition, “Air,” mostly an evocative solo guitar excursion, with bowed bass and a light tango rhythm supporting Turner, ultimately an indulgent and extended coda that loses momentum and most people’s attention span. Overall, this is an attractive first effort from the extremely talented Diego Barber, a portent of things to come, and the beginnings of a bright career from one who has all the potential to be a truly original voice in modern music.
01. Piru (Barber) – 6:52
02. 190 East (Barber) – 5:37
03. Desierto (Barber) – 8:13
04. Catalpa (Barber) – 4:02
05. Lanzarote (Barber) – 9:53
06. Richi (Barber) – 5:06
07. Virgianna (Barber) – 3:25
08. Air (Barber) – 20:51
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