Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Paquito D’rivera & Quinteto Cimarrón: Aires Tropicales

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

This disc features works by Paquito D’Rivera as well as a variety of other Cuban composers; it testifies to the saxophonist/clarinetist’s ongoing love for the rich (and too often underappreciated) Cuban classical-music tradition. He is complemented by Quinteto Cimarrón, a string quintet consisting of Cuban expats now living in Spain.

The music here, though recognizably “classical,” is characterized by an unforced meld of diverse traditions and genres. In “Wapango,” for instance, the second movement of D’Rivera’s Aires Tropicales suite, contrapuntal passages intermingle with elements of call-and-response, befitting the Afro-European cultural collusion on display. D’Rivera’s clarinet blends seamlessly with the strings; when he finally solos, he adds a bluesy tinge with his slurs and bends. The fourth movement, “Afro,” is likewise enlivened by counter-rhythms and textured layers that reflect the Africanist theme of the title, even as its melodic and harmonic conceits hew closely to standard European

classical forms.

The disc’s other selections reflect a similar unselfconscious eclecticism. The jubilant “Tamborichelo II: La Cubana,” by contemporary composer Eduardo Cana Flores (who also arranged the contrabass part for Aires Tropicales), is gaily danceable, yet the lack of percussion instruments ensures a kind of stately elegance even when the music is at its most energetic-exemplified as well in the sprightly “Contradanza,” which concludes with a jubilant foot-stomp. “Longina” sounds more modernist, with its initial taut chordal arrangements dissolving into a lushly romantic melody. Here, as elsewhere, D’Rivera’s solo work adds depth and color without undue flash. Perhaps inevitably, his application of classical technique to jazz-influenced improvisation, especially on clarinet, summons echoes of Benny Goodman. Listeners familiar with him in a purely jazz context will delight at his work here, with its clear-toned eloquence and understated yet wide thematic scope.

Originally Published