Best of 2019 #39: Ila Cantor – “Encanto”


The beguiling new release from Ila Cantor may fall in the middle of this year’s Best Of list, but it ranks right near the top as one of the prettiest recordings of 2019.  The guitarist’s seamless union of folk music and chamber jazz is like mainlining moonlight on a clear night.  There is an immaculate tunefulness to these pieces, the kind of inherent catchiness one would associate with a perfect pop song.  But in that way a world of sound emerges from the blank slate of a dark, country field, the guitarist balances the tuneful simplicity with a rich display of details and complexity.  Her use of charango and acoustic guitar amplify that richness of sound, as does collaborating with an all-star lineup of West Coast talent.  John Zorn’s The Dreamers ensemble is known (and loved) for projecting melodic dimensions as deep as the ocean and taller than the sky; Ila Cantor’s Encanto is irrefutable evidence that she possesses the exact same talent.

Your album personnel:  Ila Cantor (charango, acoustic guitar, voice), Ben Goldberg (clarinet), Rob Reich (accordion, glockenspiel), Todd Sickafoose (upright bass), Scott Amendola (drums, percussion), and guests:  Lauren Arrow (background vocals) and Phil Lewis (guitar).

Released on Slow & Steady Records.

Music from San Francisco Bay Area (CA).

Listen | Read more | Available at:  Bandcamp | Amazon