Sep 29 2012
Two For the End of the Night: Gabriela – “El Viaje” and “Detras del Sol”
I first discovered the music of Gabriela (who forgoes her last name of Marrone) via guitarist Bill Frisell. Looking through his site, I checked out music for albums he collaborated on but didn’t have his name in the big typeface. It was one of those internet wandering sessions, just following trails of breadcrumbs from one musician site to the next, listening to music, writing down names of albums and artists on lists, with ESPN on mute and the cats dozing nearby. I’ve discovered a wonderful amount of wonderful music on nights like that. The best finds, I’ve discovered, are the albums that not only pique my interest, but also fit the mood of the exact moment I’m in.
The atmospheric, lullaby sound of Gabriela’s music was the perfect fit for late at night. Let’s talk about two of her albums…
Gabriela – El Viaje
Born in Argentina, and now living there again, Gabriela has been exposed to the music of many geographies. The daughter of a diplomat, she lived in several countries throughout Europe. And later, as an adult and traveling musician, she moved around some more, spending time in the U.S. and Europe again. The exposure to such a diverse array of music sounds to have freed her from any one influence, even that of her native Argentina, for though her music does possess a South American flavor, Gabriela’s personal sound isn’t beholden to it. It’s that shrouding of music lineage that imbues her music with a sense of mystery and individuality.
Collaborating with Bill Frisell, Tucker Martine, and Lee Townsend couldn’t have hurt either.
Your album personnel: Gabriela (vocals, guitar), Bill Frisell (electric & acoustic guitars, loops), Viktor Krauss (bass), Eyvind Kang (viola, violin), Steve Moore (keyboards), and Tucker Martine (percussion).
The melting pot of electric and acoustic guitars and loops, with additional strings via viola, violin, and bass, afford this music, atmospheric at heart, a thickness, like fog over the harbor, and that corporeality makes this music as much of the earth as the air. It means that this will get felt in the gut, even as its beauty lifts hearts up to the sky.
Gabriela has a vocal approach that isn’t afraid to accentuate words with a theatrical flair without it ever getting hammy. Opening track “La Furia” has a waltz sway to it, and it’s not an uncommon sensation throughout the album. Some tracks, like “Quedate,” float on a sea of guitar loops, words only buoys rocking back and forth against the ebb and flow. The stronger tunes, however, have an insistent tempo on guitar and a quivering tension, like “Alguien Grita, Nadie Escucha” with its ominous undercurrent that inspires wariness and “Romance,” which is far slower in tempo, but even the thick blanket of violin can’t usher away the chillier guitar tone.
But in the ways that matter most, the tension is an attractive feature, and the prevailing trait is one of ethereal beauty. And it’s perfect for sitting up late at night, when it’s just the music and the listener, with no distractions to get between the two.
As far as I can tell, this is Gabriela’s latest recording.
Released in 2006 on the Songline / Tonefield label. Released in Europe on the Intuition Music label.
You can stream three album tracks HERE, on the Songline site.
Available at eMusic. Available at Amazon: CD
Gabriela – Detras del Sol
Recorded approximately ten years before El Viaje, there is still a remarkable amount of consistency between that album and Detras del Sol. This is in no small way due to the presence of Bill Frisell on both recordings, not to mention Lee Townsend‘s touch in the role as producer. But if anything has proven true over the course of ten years and three albums (the recording Viente Rojo falls in between the two covered in this article) is that Gabriela has spent a career developing her unique sound and creative voice, and once found, that’s something that sticks. And it should. All of us, as creative people, should search for our unique voice, and once we find it, trust in it.
While possessing many of the ethereal qualities that made El Viaje so delectable, Detras del Sol has an earthier sound to it. More akin to Gabriela’s take on folk music and channeled through her unique sound. Frisell’s guitar doesn’t take flight nearly as much as on El Viaje, instead keeping close to the soil a la his own recording This Land (which was released just a couple years earlier), an album that had him delving heavily into an Americana dialect of Jazz music. Another difference in sound should be attributed to Rob Burger‘s inclusion of accordion and harmonium, which both have a from-the-dirt demeanor to their sound. Also, Bill Douglass is on bass for this recording. Viktor Krauss, the bassist on El Viaje, has a sound far more suited to taking to the air. Now, from a big picture perspective, both Krauss and Douglass have cut their teeth in the World/Folk-Jazz subgenre, with Krauss’s sound a bit more modern and Douglass’s a bit more old-school (think: ECM). But on this recording, Douglass’s bass lines sound like they’re rolling over hills, and the addition of his ocarina, this was the right choice to have him on this recording.
Actually, speaking of personnel, here you go…
Your album personnel: Gabriela (vocals, acoustic guitar), Bill Frisell (guitars), Rob Burger (accordion, harmonium), Bill Douglass (bass, ocarina), Alex Acuna (drums, percussion), and Eyvind Kang (violin).
On Detras del Sol, Gabriela’s vocals are more song-like, and constructed as straight-ahead tunes (as opposed to El Viaje, where she was more inclined to expressions of words). It works better for the music on this album, and the use of a bit of restraint with the inflections doesn’t make her voice any less compelling. The match between her deeper voice and accordion is a delight. Alex Acuna‘s percussion fits the album’s sound to a tee, with no better example of this than the chipper “Hermana Maria.” Eyvind Kang‘s violin isn’t as prominent here as it is on El Viaje, but tracks like “Duerme” will give the listener their necessary fix.
Speaking of “Duerme,” it closes out the album, and, perhaps not coincidentally, it has much of the hazy atmosphere of El Viaje. A hint of things that were to come.
Released in 1997 on the Songline / Tonefield label. Released in Europe on the Intuition Music label.
You can stream two album tracks HERE, on the Songline site.
Dec 22 2012
Two-Fer (the Chamber Jazz Fan): Jesse Van Ruller Chambertones Trio & Patrick Dunst Tripod
The Two-Fer Series, featuring albums from any year, and any artist, and for any theme that strikes me at the moment.
Today’s column features: Jesse Van Ruller Chambertones Trio The Ninth Planet and Patrick Dunst Tripod Encounters…
… two chamber jazz recordings that I enjoy listening to first thing in the morning or late at night after a very long day.
Jesse Van Ruller Chambertones Trio – The Ninth Planet
Following some straight-ahead releases on the Criss Cross label, guitarist Jesse van Ruller created his Chambertones Trio. The sound derived from guitar, bass clarinet, and bass was an extreme departure of what came before. It’s also resulted in some very compelling music great for quiet moments watching the snow fall silently over the city.
It’s a sparse album, a quality further enhanced by the absence of a drummer. As such, group interplay becomes even more essential, both to bind the music in a cohesive entity and also to prevent it from becoming a snooze-fest. Interplay becomes key to it all. And it’s The Ninth Planet‘s strength.
Your album personnel: Jesse van Ruller (guitar, ukulele), Joris Roelofs (bass clarinet, clarinet), and Clemens van der Feen (bass).
On the up-tempo pieces, I can’t help but think of molecules spinning around one another when this music plays. The trio members gain a velocity that gives their individual parts an impression of a singular whole. The notes generate patterns and paths that stay within close orbit of one another to where it becomes difficult to differentiate one from the other, a sense of combustible energy catalyzed in a very tiny space. The title-track “Ninth Planet” has the trio members scooting and darting about yet expressing a solitary point of view.
And on the slower tunes (of which this album has far more of), the music gently rocks and sways in space, generating a serene atmosphere ripe for daydreams and lazy afternoons. Album opener “Ruimte” brings that aspect right to the front of the stage, as Roelofs bass clarinet establishes a languorous pace that Ruller and Roelofs are happy to match. The defacto lullaby “The Way the Whole Thing Ends” just barely hovers overhead, sounds like it might drift away at any moment, but remains.
Just a great example of how to do so much with so little. The Ninth Planet is also a great example of what musicians are doing as they explore the Chamber Jazz subgenre.
Released on the C-String Records label.
Jazz from the Netherlands.
Available at eMusic. Available at Amazon: CD | MP3
Patrick Dunst Tripod – “Encounters”
Patrick Dunst Tripod works a different aspect of the Chamber Jazz subgenre. Bringing in more of the folk and classical elements original to the earliest manifestations of Chamber Jazz, he’s created a richly textured set of compositions, though did so without sacrificing the necessary room to breathe that performers require to interact in this setting.
This is music that works the angles and schemes the melodies. A surging rhythm will give way to strings that melt post-bop ice into a warm ballad. Alt-classical passages are trail heads that lead up to world-jazz constructs. And all the colors and brushstrokes make the silences of empty canvass so much more powerful and evocative.
Your album personnel: Patrick Dunst (reeds), Igmar Jenner (violin), Christian Bakanic (accordion), Michael Lagger (piano), Reinhold Schmölzer (percussion), Valentin Czihak (bass), and guests: Tjasa Fabjancic (vocals), Fiston Mwanza (spoken poetry), and Berndt Luef (vibes).
Opening track “Prolog / Epilog” epitomizes much of what’s great about this album. It begins with quirky statements and a driving tempo, then transitions to warm strings and a soulful sax. Piano is graceful, and plays in the shadows with accordion. Rhythm section flips back and forth between the two camps. Jazz, folk, and classical pronouncements are made. Though moving at an easy pace and using inside voices, this song sounds Big. But the best moments are found buried in the details.
Interplay between reeds and strings are the album’s highlight, but accordion adds some nice harmonization and contrast to strings and piano to rate a close second (as evidenced on track “The Writer”). There are some vocals, mostly non-word variety. There is a loud spoken word section on “Ville De Chien,” the album’s only real weak spot. The tune in and of itself is fine, but it’s completely out of place from the rest of the album and kills the flow. The slower tunes are the stronger of the batch, but the up-tempo pieces have their appeal. Best is when the temperature rises within the span of a particular tune, like “Flucht,” in which a spacey drift becomes rocket fuel locomotion. Guest vibes on album closer “Momo,” arguably the prettiest track on the album. Paired with accordion, it’s just too beautiful to put into words.
Encounters is one of my happier finds in the closing weeks of 2012.
Released on the Session Work Records label.
Jazz from the Graz, Austria scene.
Available at eMusic. Available at Amazon: MP3
By davesumner • Jazz Recommendations, Jazz Recommendations - 2012 Releases, The Two-Fer Review series • 0