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Alex De Grassi and Quique Cruz: Tatamonk

Like a marriage between heaven and earth, the encounter of masterful musicians Alex de Grassi and Quique Cruz unites musical traditions from North and South America on TataMonk, which contains some of the most beautiful and mystical-sounding melodies you’ll ever hear. Steel and acoustic guitars blend seamlessly with the earthy sounds of kenas, kenachos, rondador and other Andean flutes and charangos.

The album title is a combination of the word “Tata,” which is used in Andean cultures to show respect for your elders, and Thelonious Monk’s name. The music that is born from that aggregation soars majestically. The authenticity of the sounds and rhythms for both continents is never compromised. It is, indeed, remarkable how well two apparently different cultures-blues and Andean folk-are so similar. In “Sanchalay,” for example, the polyrhythmic nature of the melody is well-contrasted with alternating kena, piano and guitar solos. In “Alba” (which means daybreak), the rondador, a small Ecuadorian panpipe, is highlighted by soft, chromatic piano chords that lead to a soothing guitar accompaniment. In the end, as morning has broken, Michael Bluestein’s piano, Jon Evans’ bass, Dan Foltz’s drums and Jeff Beal’s guest trumpet and flugelhorn erupt in glorious harmony.

TataMonk is overwhelmingly heart-stirring and fascinating.

Originally Published