Albare – Two Decades Of Jazz [TrackList follows] – Enja AP08CD (xrcd24/two discs), 109:25 ****:

(Albare – guitar; Jonathan Zion – bass; Yunior Terry – bass; Phil Turcio – piano; Pablo Bencid – drums; Alan Harris – vocals; Evripedes Evripedou – bass; Rob Burke – sax; James Ulove – vocals; Joe Chindamo – keyboard, accordion, Rhodes;  Andrew Gardner – drums; Kathryn Wood – piano;  Daryn Farrugia – drums; Chanile – trumpet; Kim Collins – vocals; Tony Floyd – drums; Jason Mashado – vocals; Alex Pertout – percussion; Andrew Gander – drums; Tony Hicks – sax, winds; Dave Beck – drums; Tim Neil – Hammond; Antonio Sanchez – drums; George Garzone – sax; Leo Genovese – piano; Hendrik Meurkens – harmonica; Phil Turcio – piano)

Moroccan-born, Albare (Albert Dadon) has been a mainstay on the Australian jazz scene for nearly twenty years. As a composer, guitarist and producer, he is renowned for his artistic commitment and collaborative expertise. His breakthrough on the 2013 album, The Road Ahead (for Enja Records) stayed in the US Top 50 jazz radio charts for 16 weeks. In addition to his recording and concert success, he is the director of the Melbourne Jazz festival. Enya Records has released a two-disc greatest hits compilation on xrcd.

Volume 1 begins with a spacey jam (“What Goes Around”) in two parts. Accompanied by bassist Jonathan Zion, Albare eases into an ethereal flow that is textured and has a classical Spanish guitar vibe. Switching to a cover, “Overjoyed” (from Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants) is a mixture of soul balladry and fusion interplay. Albare navigates through intricate chord shifts and solos gracefully. Alan Harris provides deep vocals to great effect. With finesse, “After The Rain” is a bossa nova interlude with solos by Albare and Rob Burke (soprano sax).  Albare has an innate feel for South American music. “Brazil Blues” has a tight rhythm section, Portuguese vocals (Jason Mashado) and lively percussion (Alex Pertout). “The Ascendant” is sensuous in its bossa nova resonance and the accordion runs by Joe Chindamo have a hypnotic, gypsy quality. Albare’s guitar solo is expressive and meticulous. There is a global accessibility to Albare’s music. On “South” there is an African rhythmic undercurrent added to the Latin mix and an excellent electric piano solo. Overall there are rich acoustics. “Things You Love” has nimble keyboard runs (Chindamo), vocalese (James Ulove) and excellent guitar sonics (especially reverb).

Volume 2 explodes with propulsive funk on “October Song”. Tony Hicks wails on sax and wind instruments. “Acid Love” sounds like its title with a jagged, piercing guitar. Underneath the music looped samples of Nelson Mandela can be heard. With contemporary articulation, “Cut To The Chase” has a modern tone, like Pat Metheny. Hendrik Meurkens adds a nimble touch on harmonica before Leo Genovese constructs a lyrical piano solo. Albare’s compositions are textured and the musical arrangements often showcase layered instruments. “Long Way” stacks the rhythm section (Evripides Evripedou, bass, and Antonio Sanchez) with harmonica, sax and piano. Then solos by George Garzone (sax), Muerkens and Genovese lead into some tempo shifts and a wild improvisational close. Volume 2 changes momentum on “Long Way” and “Expectations”, but there is ample passion in Albare’s guitar. The album finale is a ten-minute, two-section opus, “The Road Ahead”. The second movement is hauntingly melodic and features excellent chemistry between Albare and Turcio.

Two Decades Of Jazz is interesting and articulate jazz music. The engineering on this xrcd is top-notch. The instrumental tonality is pristine with vibrancy and richness. The CDs are packaged in a mini-hardcover book gatefold with built-in sleeves.


Volume One: What Goes Around Pt.1; What Goes Around Pt. 2; Overjoyed; After The Rain; Can’t Buy Me Love; Things You Love; Journey; What Would I Do; The Ascendant; South; Brazil Blues

Volume Two: October Song; Acid Love; No Excuse; Cut To The Chase; Long Way; Expectations; Moving On; The Road Ahead Pt. A; The Road Ahead Pt. B

—Robbie Gerson