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

Rafael Zaldivar: Consecration (Effendi)

A review of the keyboardist's album that invokes traditional Afro-Cuban spirituality

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.
Rafael Zaldivar
Cover of Consecretion by Rafael Zaldivar

Keyboardist Rafael Zaldivar invokes traditional Afro-Cuban spirituality in both his music and his message, but his thematic scope is far-ranging. His keyboard work is devoid of pyrotechnics; he uses space to create depth, then fills it with precisely articulated arpeggios and single-note punctuations to build a delicate tension. That tension is then dispelled by the broadening of the sonic spectrum to welcome in electric bass (Remi-Jean LeBlanc), percussion (hand drums, Amado Dedeu; traps, Dave Laing) and voices (Dedeu again; on one number, “Ache,” he’s joined by his son, Amado Jr.)—primarily chants and invocations drawn from religious rituals with their roots in Africa. At times, the mewl of Zaldivar’s Mini-Moog adds another element to the mix.

Ambitious, yes, but (mercifully) not pretentious. “A Rock Con Leche,” described as a tribute to James Brown, surges with hard-bop urgency rather than funk; Zaldivar’s synth screams stoke up the heat as Dedeu’s congas accentuate the theme that permeates the set. The piano solos “Manifested Creation,” “Rezos,” and “Eternal Creation” are meditative, even prayerful; “Obatala,” a paean to a Yoruba Orisha, is one of the most modern-sounding offerings here with its throbbing, funk-flavored bassline and impressionistic piano; “Unforgettable” recasts the Nat Cole standard as an elegant, melancholy bolero.

A special nod should be given to guest vocalist Mireille Boily, featured on “When I Think of You” and “Simple Talking” (the latter uncredited in the notes). She sings in unison with Zaldivar’s treble line, negotiating every challenging interval, every quick-paced ascent and descent, every trill, and every complex legato passage with accuracy and unflagging emotional commitment.

Check the price of Consecration on Amazon!

Originally Published