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Ryan Keberle & Catharsis: Azul Infinito

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ou need a magnifying glass to get through the copious liner notes of Azul Infinito, but it’s an illuminating slog. First, the composer-trombonist Ryan Keberle explains how a native of the suburbs of the Pacific Northwest fell in with South American musicians in New York, and how that pairing led to the eight hemispheric hybrid tunes comprising this disc. Then the pianist-composer Arturo O’Farrill weighs in with his unimpeachable enthusiasm for the endeavor.

But even if you don’t know a chacharena from a bullerengue, Azul Infinito captivates with its distinctive arrangements and skein of cultural fusions and juxtapositions. Fans of Keberle will appreciate how prominently and thoroughly he has incorporated rising-star vocalist Camila Meza into this latest project for his band Catharsis. The backgrounds of the pianoless quintet-Meza is Chilean, bassist Jorge Roeder is from Peru, trumpeter Mike Rodriguez has played with Gonzalo Rubalcaba, among others, and drummer Eric Doob has kept time for bands led by Paquito D’Rivera and Miguel Zenón-are astutely mined, along with the deep musical and cultural scholarship required of any Keberle project.

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