On this Alma CD, the Hilario Durán Trio presents an impressive array of talent, tunes and technique that will repay frequent hearings—it’s a welcome addition to any jazz lover’s collection.
Durán’s considerable skills—last described in these pages when Jane Bunnett blew up a storm at Centre for the Arts: cross-reference below—are a pleasure in nearly every track. He’s a pianist that knows his classical roots, combining them with a creative imagination and unstoppable sense of drive that heat up the keyboard like few others before the public today.
Nowhere is this better displayed than in his own title composition “New Danzon.” The truly solo introduction is rendered with characteristic repose and a smattering of dissonance; the music takes its time but always flows in a forward direction. When his able colleagues join the fray and stoke up the Latin heat, Durán responds with a melody that both lingers in memory and promises—soon kept—to burst into brilliant variants on his theme. A hint of An-American-in-Paris-like car horns adds colour and zest before the composer/pianist takes fire and smokes the keyboard from top to bottom.The pièce de résistance is the savvy ending, which asks as many questions as it answers.
That seemed a hard act to follow, but “Pare Cochero” more than lived up to the drive in its name. Its infectious beat doesn’t let go; the brief coda sizzles: the perfect encore to the power and passion that preceded it.
Charlie Parker’s earlier “Segment” is another “short-but-oh-so-sweet” chart that demonstrates the discretion and deceptively free rein Roberto Occhipinti and El Negro keep on their inspired leader.
Horacio Hernandez’ brushes, like a gin & tonic on a steamy day, refresh, relax and restore the inner soul; his subtle cymbal work (including the last word), intriguingly, follows the harmony as well as the flights of this seagull’s improvisational fancy.
Producer/bassist Occhipinti distinguishes himself in “All of Me,” where he lays down line after line of funky fun that walks all over the strings with happy abandon. Later, his solo mixes artistic freedom with an underlying control that lifts the music miles off the page.
After the dreamy and reflective episodes in “Velas” (notable too for a bold modulation that breaks the reverie but keeps the delivery fresh), the album comes to a close with a marvellous old horse. “Caballo Viejo” starts off with a desert-dry landscape of muted piano strings and tinder drums. After Hernandez and Durán have an animated musical conversation, a child-like tune soon grows up into a fully improvised adult. Once again, the leader’s energetic, at times sassy interventions reveal his own traditional upbringing with hints of the masters lurking in the riffs and a tremolo sequence—which would make Brahms smile and Beethoven go off on another tangent—that burns along brightly to the end. JWR