Wednesday, January 11, 2012

In review--A Global Cuba

Elio Villafranca and Arturo Stable
Dos y Mas
Motema Records

I’m starting off the year with my first CD review of the delicious Dos y Mas by Cuban jazz pianist Elio Villafranca and Cuban percussionist Arturo Stable.  Certainly the songs on the recording feel inspired, passionate, and innovative, yet familiar.  Agua Marina takes flight with piano runs bursting forth and then alternating like gentle waves lapping a shore.   The opener 1529 features Arabic-Andalusian flavors, which isn’t surprising since the duo provides an expanded musical palette including music from Spain, the Middle East, African, and Cuba.

The elegiac Alla takes Cuban jazz to a higher level with Villafranca’s piano portraying melancholy not expected with Cuban music.  En La Colonia opens with Stable playing a kalimba (thumb piano) and off to Africa we head, soon exploring the Arabic side too.   With A Las Millas, the piano riff imprints on the brain in the same way as a melodic Coltrane song.   The counterpoint along with the warm percussion groove hits the spot.   Cuba Linda brings in the Yoruba rumba element  and closes the recording on an enticing note.  The closing track, Dos y Mas (Two and More), sums up the experience of this dazzling CD which proves more than the sum of its exotic parts.

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