Tyler Greenfield, featuring Xiomara Laugart – Sunday Bolero – Bim Bom Studios BB02, 47:14 ****1/2:
Traditional Cuban music gets a musical and studio upgrade!
(Tyler Greenfield – piano, guitar; Gabriel “Chinchilita” Machado – coros, percussion; Jorge Bringas – bass; Xiomara Laugart – vocals; Karl Rodriguez-Pena – trumpet; Edgar Pantoja-Aleman – coros)
There was always an inherent appreciation for Cuban musical influences in The United States. For decades, the rhythmic, dance-infused tempos have seeped into various pop and jazz projects. Pianist and Bim Bom Studios founder Tyler Greenfield has released a tribute to Cuban boleros on 180-gram vinyl. Arranged for a slower vibe, Sunday Bolero is a relaxed, complex group of songs that elevates the simple romanticism of this genre. The opening track on Side A (“Samba For Carmen” a Paquito D’Rivera tune that was originally done at a much accelerated tempo) defines Greenfield’s aesthetic point of view. Following a lithe piano intro, the rhythm section (Jorge Bringas/double bass; Gabriel Machado/percussion) settles into a gentle flow with Greenfield. His notation is shimmering.
The band members are Cuban and the compositions feature a cadre of native composers. Vocalist Xiomara Laugart brings some attitude to “Nosotros” with her alto vocals. Both Greenfield and Machado contribute delicate solos and the song ends in a spirited montuno. Greenfield begins “Tres Palabras” with a wistful, nuanced hush before delving into the complicated phrasing that defines his piano technique. It is tender, swaying jazz and he initiates “Como Fue” with this subtle artistic interpretation. A second D’Rivera opus (“Brussels In The Rain”) is rendered as a lyrical solo piano performance. In less than two minutes, the listener is transformed by Greenfield.
Side B is notable for having three more solo piano numbers. Each one demonstrates Greenfield’s deft touch. “Duele” is infused with interesting tempo, but with understated warmth. On “Monica’s Interlude”, there is an intimacy and emotional feel. The finale, “Como Un Milagro” was not originally intended for the album. It is a welcome “bonus” track. There are two expanded arrangements that include Karl Rodriguez-Pena on trumpet. On “Siboney”, the tones of the sharper horn provide a counterpoint to the mellowness. Again, there is another glowing solo by Greenfield. He plays in tandem with Pena on “No Te Importa Saber”. Both tunes change the dynamic. Laugart lends her vocal expertise twice on this side. She is evocative on what is described as “the first bolero “Tristezas”. Another slight tempo adjustment makes this sound like a waltz-time piece. “Sabor A Mi” (by Mexican composer Alvaro Camillo) showcases her unique stylized vocals.
Sunday Bolero is impressive on two levels. It reintroduces a specific genre, but reconfigures it to a different musical structure. The audio quality of this vinyl is superior. The piano tonality is crisp and vibrant, even in an understated mix. The lower-end doublebass is crystalline and the percussion is captured in great detail. [Sort of down-plays the idea that digital handles the extreme low end better, eh?…Ed.]
Side A: Samba For Carmen; Nosotros; Tres Palabras; Como Fue; Brussels In The Rain
Side B: Sabor A Mi; Duele; Siboney; Monica’s Interlude; No Te Importa Saber; Tristezas; Como Un Milagro
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