Javier Colina & Chano Domínguez: Chano & Colina (Sunnyside)

A review of a live album from the pianist and bassist

Chano & Colina

Chano Domínguez is from Cádiz, Spain, the birthplace (according to legend) of flamenco. His discography is mostly on Spanish labels. He released two records on Blue Note in 2010 and 2012 (Piano Ibérico and Flamenco Sketches), but they are atypical and already rarities. Over the Rainbow came out last year on Sunnyside; now there’s Chano & Colina too. For those new to Domínguez, the two Sunnyside titles are where to start, and they will be revelations. His unique piano language organically fuses two sensibilities: the rhythms and harmonies of flamenco and the improvisatory spirit of jazz.

The first Sunnyside album was a solo concert. Chano & Colina, also recorded live in Spain, adds bassist Javier Colina. “Ziryab,” by Paco de Lucía, is unleashed excitement, an ornate spontaneous jazz design overtaken by the climactic flourishes of flamenco. Even more striking are the North American standards. “You and the Night and the Music” has been waiting 80 years for Domínguez to inject all those extra flamenco beats into its straight 4/4. A song about being “filled with flaming desire” has never been set on fire like this.

Domínguez’s rhythmic sophistication and intensity do amazing things to ballads. “My One and Only Love” becomes a spring-loaded flamenco waltz, an assertive new concept of tenderness. It’s initially surprising that he chooses two songs associated with Bill Evans, but on them he proves that he’s more than a master of metrical manipulation; he generates energy in the service of lyricism. “We Will Meet Again” has a new lift, which makes it more, not less, poignant. (Its emotion is deepened by one of Colina’s many dramatic solos.) “You Must Believe in Spring” is transformed by the creative force that sets it into throbbing motion. Michel Legrand’s fragile avowal of faith has rarely sounded so sensual.

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Thomas Conrad

Thomas Conrad has a BA from the University of Utah and an MA from the University of Iowa (where he attended the Writers Workshop). He taught English at Central State University in Ohio, then left the academic world for the private sector. His affiliation with publications such as JazzTimes, Stereophile, The New York City Jazz Record and DownBeat has enabled him to sustain active involvement in two of his passions: music and writing.