Sunday, January 27, 2008

In Review--Alex Alvear's Equatorial

Alex Alvear

Colorao Records

For those listeners who enjoy South American Andes rhythms, flutes, and gentle flourishes, could do no better than Ecuadoran musician Alex Alvear's Equatorial. Alex reflects on a rediscovery of his native music on this disc. Like so many of us who discovered rock or jazz music in our formative years and thought that we could turn our backs on our musical lineage, Alex found that one can never run too far away from their roots. (Although he did find himself playing Cuban music for some time before returning to his Andes roots). And thankfully he returned full force to his musical heritage because his sweet musical offering brings smiles to listeners' faces--I am sure of it.

"I must confess I never fostered traditional music as many of my fellow Ecuadorian musicians have been doing for decades, despite numerous challenges and lack of support. My knowledge of the music of my homeland has been purely empirical; a collage of interactions with musicians, sound-bites and soundtracks from the street and daily life..."

But then later when he found himself living in the U.S. " an immigrant in a foreign land, to feel a connection that binds me to my roots and place where I was born (became important). I feel that this work is an umbilical cord that neither time nor distance have been able to sever." (Liner notes).

Indeed, who would want to sever the umbilical cord that connects one to this lush, music layered with exotic percussion, traditional and European instruments. A large group of musicians came on board bringing in flutes, violins, bandoneon, piano, Celtic harp and other worldly sounds. Colombian vocalist Marta Gomez contributes her honeyed vocals to Soñando con Quito and Caballito Azul. Latin reedman, Paquito D'Rivera adds his clarinet the Argentine tango, Diva and Hasta Siempre, Jean-Baptiste Bocle performs vibraphone on a bonus track.

With so many musicians coming in and out of the room, this highly colorful album takes several listens before its warm tones sink in. While the sound is overall South American Andes, it also has a wider global appeal. And obviously with so many musicians coming in and out of the room, bringing in their musical gifts, Alex Alvear deserves plenty of kudos for his talents in arranging and composing a collection of bright and breezy songs. You might wish you were on a plane heading to South America after listening to this one or if you are a musician yourself, you might wish to be invited to the next jam session.

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