Barcelona Holiday! Yeah!

You may never get to Spain, but this album will transport you with ease to many other groovy places in the universe.

I love to listen to this expressive, zippy mix of avant~swing while driving - especially across the Tappan Zee Bridge, for example. This music aids in the expansiveness of something we all need more of: connection!

Every tune on the CD is a standard, but there is certainly nothing pedestrian about the approach. This trio transmogrifies each selection into a unique expression using ideas and techniques that are immediate as well as mysterious. (BTW: every track is a recorded live Take 1!)

Overall and throughout, Vinnie Sperrazza on drums maintains consistency and solidity by inhabiting the magical realm of Drums~As~Equal~Improvisational~
Partner. His sense of swing never dissolves despite his experimental outpourings, most of which are so subtle, you might miss them the first hundred times around. Jacob Sacks on keys characteristically surprises and delights as he unwaveringly pushes every rhythmic, harmonic and melodic boundary. How does he do this without ever losing the center?! As for the bass, Masa Kamaguchi offers a lot of melodic exploration that is as reassuring as it is enlivening, providing a sure-footed and accessible counterweight to the various realms of abstraction put forth by the others. Kamaguchi is not afraid of speed, nor does he shy away from space. You might find his solo on “Three in One” particularly intriguing. I did.

As for the tunes themselves: “Sweet and Lovely” is an easily identifiable melody, but the nuance involved in the trio’s rhythmic permutations will keep both sides of your brain busy for quite awhile. On Track 2, the group’s version of "Yardbird Suite" takes us out, in, and around the block on a rhythmic journey of construction monikered only by a careful deconstructive thrust. This rapid, inventive excursion finalizes the complexity with an ending that simply ends, which is as satisfying as the original, even though you may not be altogether sure as to how you arrived at the same place (which is, I think, part of the ironic intent of this re-shaping). Immediately following the Parker track, you’ll encounter a thoughtful, pensive version of “I Loves You Porgy,” where Sacks carves out a significant level of emotional depth, somehow conveying the intense, dreamy essence of the lyric without a word spoken.

I could go on trying to attach concepts and words to the rest of the tunes, but doing that kind of thing is really beside the point, and I would guess the opposite of what these three fine musicians intended. The charm and allure of this kind of musical exploration is in the individual discovery of points of connection. Will listening lead you to YouTube the originals, where you might discover something new in the old? Will you engage in a deeper level of musical analysis as you listen, sharpening your skills through careful questioning? Or will you simply do as I have done: play the CD full blast in the car, repeatedly. Whatever your choice, Barcelona Holiday will allow the radiance of sound to warm your ear and guide your hand as you make your way through these trying times.

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Monique Avakian