Everything Pablo Ablanedo does sounds Big.
And Ablanedo makes the achievement of the epic appear effortless. His songs have a persona that present themselves as music of a noble grandeur, of music that attains great heights with a graceful ease and a fluid motion. As such, his newest recording, ReContraDoble, elicits thrilling shifts in anticipation, encapsulating the expansive in a way that exposes the beauty residing in the tiny details.
Ablanedo has discovered the perfect mix of Jazz and Argentinean musics. Similarities can be drawn between the music of Ablanedo and that of fellow Argentinean jazz musician Guillermo Klein, in that the music of both artists is undeniably Jazz while also reflecting a definitive Argentinean influence, but which result in a mix that seems created of a singular identity. They both own a recognizable sound that doesn’t comport itself as a fusion of different music influences, instead possessing the quality of unique expressions of a creative voice.
This is likely the contributing factor to why Ablanedo so ably imbues his music with an epic nature. He’s moved past the tinkering stage. And because his focus isn’t occupied with the task of finding the just-right recipe, he can instead concentrate on getting the flavor of the components to reach full bloom. His music possesses a fullness, the like of which the best stories are told.
Your album personnel: Pablo Ablanedo (piano), Fernando Brandao (flute, alto & bass flutes), Phil Grenadier (trumpet), Daniel Ian Smith (tenor & soprano sax, laughter), Kelly Roberge (tenor sax, clarinet), Eric Hofbauer (guitar), Fernando Huergo (bass), Franco Pinna (drums), Bertram Lehmann (percussion), and guests: Greg Hopkins (trumpet) and Katie Viqueira (voice).
“Miranda al Cielo” tells the story of this album in the opening chapter. The song twitters with life, grown from the seed of a repeated phrase that has an infectious bounce and trails off in celebratory tones. Ablanedo’s octet(o) obsess over this phrase. They restate it. They reform it. They build up from it. They launch off from it and fly up and away. And, like a beacon calling out to them, eventually they return home to it. And during the course of those actions, the ensemble forges a construct of epic storytelling that brings a near dizzying response when contemplating that they’ve done this all within the span of one solitary song.
Ablanedo’s octet(o) takes this route throughout the course of this album.
For instance, second track “Silence” drifts close to the earth with the burgeoning sonority of Hofbauer’s guitar, but gradually accumulates mass as the trumpet and saxes of Grenadier, Smith, and Roberge are absorbed into the mix. And, as in the opening track, and as so often occurs throughout this excellent album, the ensemble returns to its original state.
Even a short tune like title-track “ReContraDoble,” which features the ridiculously lyrical bass playing of Fernando Huergo, the Octet(o) bring a sense of Big to the stage with notes that only sound self-contained. And then there’s the rendition of the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood,” that adopts a cheerful vibe for a composition that leans more toward the melancholy. Fernando Brandao’s flute paints bright tones against the backdrop of Pinna’s hyperactive drumming. Also notable is “Departido,” in which Ablanedo’s somber piano lines, though relegated primarily to the background, add a lovely tinge of sadness to an otherwise upbeat tune.
Just a wonderful album. It was released in December of 2012, which was after the cutoff for my Best of 2012 list. December 2012 releases receive consideration for the Best of 2013 list. Ablanedo’s Octet(o) have made a strong argument for ReContraDoble to be included on that list.
Released on the Creative Nation Music label.
Jazz from the Boston scene.
Here’s a Tumblr page dedicated to the album. I haven’t explored it much, but it looks pretty neat.
You can stream the entire album, and purchase it if you so choose, at the artist’s bandcamp page.
Also, ever since I started the Safety Net review series, I’ve had Ablanedo’s 2002 release Alegria on my list for a write-up, but seeing as all of my lists are threatening to drown me, I’ll instead just drop a note in here about it. The line-up is different, but just as crazy talented with all-stars like this one. I couldn’t find any music from the album to stream, which is unfortunate, because if I was able to stream the title-track “Alegria,” I’m positive every single one of you would buy that album. You should do that, anyways, because it’s an excellent release.