Miguel Zenón / Laurent Coq Quartet – “Rayuela”

 

The title of the Miguel Zenon / Laurent Coq Quartet‘s delightful album Rayuela is translated to English as “hopscotch.”  It’s a well-chosen title.

Just as the game of hopscotch has rules and form, it’s the seemingly limitless permutations that may occur within those confines, and the part that mere chance plays upon it, that makes it such an enduring game.  Jump here, stagger there, hop, twist, hop again, stand, fall, laugh, shout, stop, begin again… the patters all seem familiar, though each iteration of the game remains inherently unique.

That, in many ways, is emblematic of this recording’s music.

Your album personnel:  Miguel Zenón (alto sax), Laurent Coq (piano), Dana Leong (cello, trombone), and Dan Weiss (drums, tabla, percussion).

Though this album is marked by crafty shifts in tempo and playful fidgeting with reflections of repeated sounds, it’s the undeniable warmth of the music that makes it shine.  Zenon, though attaining a signature sound over the course of his playing career, consistently displays an adaptability to his collaborators and provides a sense that all are as one.  Zenon’s sax speaks loud and clear, but with the ease of one happy to be in the presence of others… an amicability that lends well to the music’s warmth.  Coq adds his piano to the mix by letting his voice carry from the background; his piano never steps on the toes of the other quartet members, yet remains ever-present in the conversation.  Leong adds both cello and trombone to the recording, not only providing some intriguing elements to the quartet environment, but also some enchanting contrast from one song to the next.  Both instruments are deep-voiced and resonant, but cello and trombone have very different presences on the bandstand.  Dan Weiss brings a rich flavor profile to the recoding, and the amalgamation of his percussion makes it easy for surprise to register when reminded that he alone is at the wheel.

Rayuela is a beautiful album, complex yet understated, warm yet thought-provoking, an album that can engage both head and heart.

The album was inspired by the Julio Cortázar’s novel of the same name, and, apparently, many of the song titles and compositions were informed and/or influenced by the novel.

Released on the Sunnyside Records label.

Available on eMusic.  Available at Bandcamp.  Available at Amazon: CD | MP3

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