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David Virelles: Mboko

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Among young jazz pianists with exceptional technical facility, David Virelles is atypical in his willingness to make chops subservient to an esoteric cause and a minimalist concept.

The subtitle of Mbókò is “Sacred Music for Piano, Two Basses, Drum Set and Biankoméko Abakuá.” “Sacred” refers to the music’s roots in the rituals of the Abakuá Secret Society, which came from West Africa to Virelles’ native country, Cuba. Two bassists, Thomas Morgan and Robert Hurst, create a dual bass drone. Drummer Marcus Gilmore and Román Díaz, who plays a four-drum kit called the biankoméko, conjure rapt, intermittent, mostly quiet polyrhythms. In this environment of implicit suspense and sublimated ardor, Virelles’ piano arrays clusters and colors in the open spaces, or not.

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