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Jerry Gonzalez: Los Piratas de Flamenco

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Recorded in 2001 and released initially in Europe, this outing finds Jerry Gonzalez turning from his specialty, Afro-Cuban jazz, toward stripped-down flamenco music. Sunnyside has offered two marvelous flamenco-jazz discs by pianist Chano Dominguez, and Gonzalez’s album touches a similar nerve. It is not a band record, for one thing. Gonzalez overdubs trumpet (open and muted) and multiple percussion instruments; he’s joined primarily by guitarist Nino Josele, who cowrote three of the pieces. Opening with the traditional “Hubo un Lugar,” Gonzalez sets the mood with unaccompanied trumpet, then adds beautifully recorded percussion. Not until 2:30 do we hear Josele’s guitar, which later joins the trumpet in a surprising harmony line, ending the piece. The production is sparse, but somehow bold and three-dimensional.

The magic continues, with lilting rhythms and big, broad guitar chords on “Rosa Para Julia,” featuring Israel Suarez “Pirana” on cajon. Diego “El Cigala” contributes vocals on the mournful “Gitanos de la Cava” and the closing “Obsesion” (the latter more of a band track, with Andy Gonzalez on bass, among others). “En el Corazon de Pescaderias” and “Al Abordaje” are Gonzalez duets with Josele and “Pirana” respectively, while “Pirata de Lucia” is a brisk, impressive tribute to guitar virtuoso Paco de Lucia.

Jazz heads will turn for “Donnali,” an alteration of Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee” featuring Juan Jose Suarez Paquete on guitar. Gonzalez plays around with the form, lingering on unexpected chords, approaching them from a more flamenco than jazz standpoint. Similarly, “Monk Soniquete” revises “Monk’s Dream” with multiple trumpets, percussion, handclaps and enthused voices. Gonzalez’s affinity for Monk is well-known, but this is a compelling new wrinkle in the story.