Recommended: Hasier Oleaga – “Cantus Caterva II”


Hasier Oleaga - "Cantus Caterva II"Cantus Caterva II leads out with its heart.  Opening song “Lekitto eta kitto” immediately shows what this album is all about… songs with a vibrant head, rich with texture and liveliness that leads right into finely crafted melodies that were made to be remembered.  But it’s not just about great opening lines.  Shifts in tone and tempo string the melodies out, unravel them with one surprise after the next, yet develop in a way so natural that the surprises seem expected all along in the first place.  The way the opening bombast of wind instruments suddenly drops off for the light rainfall of keyboards, the saxophones modifying their behavior to fit in with the new leader.  The switch, then, over to a spirited piano solo as the instigator back to the opening bombast possesses an alluring fluidity that carries the ear effortlessly across the expanse of a song that flirts with something approaching the epic… if not for its composure and tasteful restraint.

And that is how Hasier Oleaga drives his newest album from first note to last.

The excitable rhythms of “Weyland Txirrindularia” lead from an opening bass solo, to stick work, to some punchy sax accompaniment.  The way languorous statements of melody are interspersed through the dynamic fields of percussion is just more evidence of the changes that reflect one of this album’s two strengths.  The other is the melody, and this song offers up a diamond as shiny as the opening track.  “Argitasunaren alde iluna” also lays out a carpet thick with rhythmic threads, but weaves intensity and moodiness into its pattern instead.

After what teases as a modern piece with an intro thick and lumbering, “Solvitur Ambulando” surprises with some swing, dancing light and lively across the dance floor.  “Niger Hole” also pulls a quick costume change, but this time shifts from a modern post-bop piece to something more free and volatile.  But even as the song enters states of agitation, the melody is still in the mix.

The ballad “Mayi” has a breezy appeal, as if its profession of love is sincere but totally off-the-cuff.  The album ends with the hot and cold blues of “Zure gaileta neure kafean bustitzen duzunean.”  There’s a tone of finality to the song, a melancholy weariness fitting of an album that put so much of its heart into the crafting of a set of beautiful melodies and a plan how to best present them.

This is one of those recordings that achieves a modicum of greatness by simply doing everything right and augmented by some well-times bursts of excellence.

Your album personnel:  Hasier Oleaga (drums), Mikel Andueza (alto sax), Julen Izarra (tenor sax), Iñaki Salvador (piano, keyboards), Jorge Abbeys (guitar), Jan Piris (bass), and Fernando Neira (electric bass).

Released on Errabal Jazz.

Available at:  eMusic | Amazon MP3