Jazz in Colombia


We do not determine music.
Music determines us
Steve Lacy

Through the continuing task of naming with words musical feelings and sounds, (quixotic endeavor, no doubt), I find myself in the Colombian jazz disturbing path, in this case, traveling by train. Yes. On the album cover of Miguel Rodrick Quintet, a colorful train stems its white smoke on a bright red which gives it a lively presence to the overall image.

A journey that leads to seven stations of sound, each one with its own jazz nuance. But before embarking on this trip, it is good to remember that the national jazz scene is under two clear references: Antonio Arnedo and Puerto Candelaria, (band praised to death by the Bogota´s reviewers). The first one, with a splendid combination of “pasillos”, “bambucos” and “cumbias” with that breaking up tone, libertarian with saxes.

The second one, climate-riding ironic partying traditional rhythms. Bet very valuable and consolidated, by the way, but that steels some independence to new generations, which in turn, build up new and enigmatic paths. This quintet gets away from this last trend, learns from the first one and recreates with wonderful results, except in the initial theme "Porro Modal", with an air of chucu-chuco, more suited to a hangover after flower´s Fair. It is jazz asking for massive applause. Quite the contrary, at 'stations' following, the band offers us its own landscape. with a melodic and harmonically marimba that gives the leads the overall production, plasticity rich in color and texture, same as the metallic vibraphone looseness.

This is the greatest achievement, diamond found during this sound journey. So we appreciate one playful and dynamic jazz ("The Gorobeto"); sensitive ownership in jazz discourse with exquisite exuberantly rhythmic changes ("En la espera"); the clean phrasing on soprano sax, with its figures, although common in the instrument, which do not lose their charm, and creates another facet of composition with the atmosphere provided by the marimba ("Inside Out"). Looking tirelessly for jazz because the intimate ecstasy it brings me. No other genre offers me the way jazz does. And rarely our jazz. But this quintet offers something, say that hides its magic.

As long as I continue listening, Miguel Rodrick and his accomplices on the way, ( Federico Ochoa –soprano-, Alejandro Ruiz –marimba and vibes-, Didier Martínez –drums- and Davis Hernández –electric and double bass- ),parking in other places, no less striking: harmony expands with singing melodies and the guitar, more interested in tone than on technical skills, allows rhythmic opening well supported by the drums ("Mirando atrás"); vigorous ostinatto is accompanied by acute percussion, rhythmically solvent (“Esto no es un pasillo “), and to close the musical journey, a melodic sax filigree, with the subtlety of an exportable jazz from Colombia to the world in “Refections”, shows this quintet deep interested in their own identity, regardless of musical stereotypes present in young performers, marked more by formulas than searches.

And I just find something very significant at the end of the themes: approach to jazz abstraction, that vital chaotic sound that every good musician knows he can not get away from as part of the tradition in this genre. Interestingly I would like to start every tune from the ending, as in a Cortazar´s story. So, to soprano player, even with its surprising moments of vocal instrumentation, I would ask for a more “dirty intonation”, more free. This little format, as quartet or trio worldwide, is full of pachyderm repetitions although with commercial succeed, say little about bacchanalian identity of music.

Independent record companies have more to say in this way, they offer more restlessness, as Hatology does, or well known label ECM. That is why I emphasize, one side, commitment IO's Recording to venture into the recording of the group, and on the other, artist Susana Pineda, with its picturesque train takes us to our innocent childhood games. These are musicians, that well surrounded, are determined to dignify nowadays jazz.

Abril 18 - 2013

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Gustavo Bustamante