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Kip Hanrahan: Pinero

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Kip Hanrahan’s evocative and hard-to-classify albums have always occupied some dimensional netherworld, just left of jazz or any easy idiomatic address, closer to the realm of dreams and cinema. Thus it makes poetic sense that Hanrahan would find his way into film scoring. His music for director Leon Ichaso’s 2001 film Pinero, about the volatile poet-playwright actor-activist Miguel Pinero (1946-1988), may take as a departure point Miles Davis’ classic Tribute to Jack Johnson, in which the music itself hangs together as a powerful artistic statement away from the imagery.

The Davis connection goes further in that Jerry Gonzalez’s brooding trumpet has a decided Miles-y touch on several voodoo-moody tracks. Those blend freely into feisty Afro-Cuban passages, cooked up by such notable players as percussionist Milton Cardona, drummer Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez and bassist Fernando Saunders, maker of snaky lines. Occasionally, we hear slippery snippets of Pinero’s own text read by Benjamin Bratt, who plays the protagonist in the film. This is music with a sense of image and taste and, most of all, dripping in atmosphere.