Rainbows for Ramon
The Black Butterflies

Referencing talented saxophonist Mercedes Figueras’s newest family addition, this collection of musically exotic selections lives up to its name as a multi-colored beauty. Rare as a rainbow’s sighting to have such creative power, improvisational intensity and sense of exultation in a recording, “Rainbows for Ramon” exudes passion, excitement and an intense emotional dynamic across the board. It’s pure, honest fun, too.

The diverse Latin-tinged selections are rhythmically intense, melodically infectious and lean heavily on more world music grooves than straight ahead plays. They offer Figueras and her Butterflies the platform and opportunity to leverage and explore creative areas uncharted. Pulsing rhythmic bases allow Figueras, saxophone cohort Tony Larrokko and the other Butterflies the ultimate in free expression – and they grab on to it with gusto. Need proof? – dig the title cut.

Argentinian by birth and influenced by that country’s marvelous music, as well as by the great Gato Barberi, Figueras approaches her instrument highly artistically - as a painter or sculptor would use their respective tools. She is a fearless explorer, a surpriser never clicheing or boring. She spews sparks and sparkles from each of the instruments she plays on this date and is vocally sultry on “Summertime.” A most able composer, Figueras delivers three original compositions, each with an infectious head, drive and rhythmic underpinning. Her performance here certainly warrants Figueras deserving further recognition as one of contemporary jazz’s most talented artists. She is indeed the rarest of beautiful birds with lineage descended and developed from the ever-evolving and ever-pluming tree of Parker and Coltrane.

The Black Butterflies is comprised of some of New York’s most creative musical artists. Saxophonist Larokko is a perfect woodwind foil for Figueras. The rhythm section is all drive and buys into the effort superbly. This is an ensemble of visceral intensity, creative fire and a no-holds-barred approach to individual or collective (read free) improvisation.

“Rainbows for Ramon” by The Black Butterflies elicits and is sheer joy.

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Nick Mondello