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Richie Zellon: Metal Caribe

More than perhaps any other composer working today, Richie Zellon is obsessed with the linkages between traditional and contemporary musical styles. On Metal Caribe (Song-O- Saurus 7 62:46), his cleverly titled third release for the adventurous Song-O-Saurus label, Zellon produces his most well-traveled, seamless effort yet, illustrating the common threads in music and cultural experience through endlessly surprising compositions and arrangements. Zellon provides historical context for his inspired, sometimes downright wacky arrangement ideas through the rhythms of the Americas-like the bubbly Afro-Peruvian festejo setting grounding the colorful “Chancay” and quirky “Twilight Zone.” “Rabbi Merenguewitz” is a Middle Eastern- textured romp, combining traditional Jewish styles with a raging merengue rhythm, and “Metal Caribe” pits Zellon’s pulled heavy metal guitar flights against the hot coals of Afro-Cuban percussion for a disarming effect. Other highlights include the beautiful “Tel Aviv Blue,” a lovely spiritual ballad told in Zellon’s bittersweet guitar tone and Dave Liebman’s twisting soprano sax, and an unexpected rock cover-Cream’s immortal “Sunshine of Your Love” reinvented as a striking cha-cha through the bristly textures of percussion, vibes, and needling guitar tones.

Originally Published