In this ear-grabbing gallery of breathtaking originals, Uruguayan pianist Nando Michelin does more than connect dots between music and painting. Drawing inspiration from such canonic modernists as "Juan Gris" and "Henri Matisse," Michelin paints with emotional directness and cutting-edge sophistication. In "Marc Chagall," for instance, one hears echoes of Michelin's South American heritage as well as the advanced training he received at Berklee in Boston, Michelin's home for the past decade.
Fleshing out Michelin's outlines are bassist Fernando Huergo, drummer Steve Langone, and percussionist Sergio Faluotico, whose nuanced energies accent with taste and disciplined abandon. As heard in "Joan Miro" and "Picasso in Blue," Michelin is a compelling soloist. However, it's tenorist Jerry Bergonzi who splashes the brightest colors. Indeed, Bergonzi's forays are the work of "a man possessed," as annotator Ted Panken puts it. Credit Bergonzi. But also credit Michelin's grand designs and the quintet's great grace, passion and simpatico.