Duende Libre – Duende Libre

REVIEW: Duende Libre - Duende Libre

Duende Libre – Duende Libre (self-released)

On their eponymous debut, Duende Libre shatter preconceived notions of “global jazz fusion,” the eclectic power trio’s all-encompassing description of their sound. Boundless hybridity certainly comes to mind, shaped not just by the confluence of cultures within their music, but by the revelation that the trio is firmly rooted in the Pacific Northwest.

Duende Libre is an 11-track sonic voyage unlike any other, right down to the mysteriously enticing psychedelic album cover. Fronted by composer and pianist Alex Chadsey, this band of Seattle denizens deftly capture their adopted city’s rich cross-currents of Latin, Caribbean, Brazilian and African influences. In the process, they deliver a strikingly authentic blend, one that has marked their city as an epicenter for musicians who share an appetite for bridging worlds.

With Farko Dosumov on electric bass and Jeff “Bongo” Busch on drums and percussion, Duende Libre’s lush soundscapes frequently give the impression of a much larger ensemble. The album opens with Cuban pianist-composer Frank Emilio Flynn’s “Rio Pescadores,” a traditional jazz-trio composition showcasing Chadsey’s piano montuno, a distinctive, swinging Cuban-style of comping. “Forgotten Well,” a Brazilian-flavored track, features the twang of the berimbau, an Afro-Brazilian gourd instrument with a single-string bow, and a chanting chorus of melodic capoeira music. “Michel” swings with more Brazilian-tinged hues of samba soul, while the sinuously dramatic “Sevilla” brims with Afro-Cuban cadence and once again displays Chadsey’s affinity and ease with the montuno.

A contemplative ode to Malian music, “Salif” honors Salif Keita and is highlighted by an elegantly cascading piano solo. “Still,” a funky, head-bopping tune laced with organ-sounding keyboard, is enveloped in a spirited take-me-to-church vibe. Toward the end of the track, Busch whimsically employs a cuica friction drum, a staple of samba and Brazilian enredos (Carnaval songs). The album’s closer, “Sinister Minister,” seals the deal, offering further evidence that Chadsey and company are polyglot alchemists and that Seattle’s global jazz fusion is a special brew in the making.

Lissette Corsa

For more information, go to http://duendelibre.com/

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