(Segell Microscopi)

Barcelona-born bassist Manel Fortià caught the jazz world’s attention last year with the release of Arrels, a potent combination of free-jazz and flamenco that proved both a signature sound and a palimpsest for future work. His latest project, Despertar, arrives just one year later but brings with it a fresh direction. Fortià is a masterful composer of great breadth and imagination, and his new album seeks to distill his recent tenure in New York City — from 2016 to 2020, a pivotal four years for the city, the country and the world — into a nine-song meditation on the rhythms and spirit of the Big Apple. “Circular,” our pick, resides on the sharpened edge of modern jazz, occupying a similar space once inhabited by Fortià’s heroes: bassists Charlie Haden and Gary Peacock. With a spiraling motion befitting of its title, the song takes on a shimmering quality, alive with layers. Throughout, Spanish pianist Marco Mezquida and French drummer Raphaël Pannier are the song’s animating breath.

Purchase Album:

The Authoritative Voice in Jazz