ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages


Juan Alzate - 2001 - "Autorretratos"

(70 min, Luna Negra)

TRACK LIST:                    

1.  Primavera del 71 
2.  Que Hago Aquil
3.  Peroles y Macundales 
4.  Cachicamo le Dijo a Morrocay
5.  El Sonido de la Miel
6.  Tres Seres Humedos 
7.  Saltos Mortales Sin Red 
8.  Yo Soy Yo 
9.  Trane Salta 
10. Para Eso Me Pinto Solo
11. Para Alla


Juan Alzate - tenor, alt & soprano saxophones 
Zosimo Hernandez - contrabass, el. & ac. bass 
David Villanueva - piano
Efren Capiz - drums

Prolusion. Juan ALZATE is a Mexican saxophonist who, according to the press kit, takes a great interest in both classic jazz music and Rock-In-Opposition. "Autorretratos" is Juan's first solo release on which he is joined by drummer Efren Capiz and two former members of Banda Elastica, bassist Zosimo Hernandez and pianist David Villanueva. I haven't included the names of guest musicians in the lineup above, but I will name those worthy of note in the next paragraph.

Analysis. With the exception of Peroles y Macundales, each of the first six tracks represents hyper-complex purely-improvisational acoustic Jazz which is remotely reminiscent of early Chick Corea or, to be more precise, of those solo creations by Chick that include bassist Barry Altschul and drummer Dave Holland. The opening tune, Primavera del 71, stands out for its really unique interaction between Alzate's saxophone and the vocalizations of guest singer Geraldine Celener, both musicians just working wonders with their respective instruments, our hero's positively wild improvisations at times reminding me of the neigh of a horse, and I really like these, too, as they are curious, if not transporting - well, in a way. Que Hago Aquil, Cachicamo le Dijo a Morrocay, El Sonido de la Mie and Tres Seres Humedos, each is a set of incessant furious interplays between the four main musicians, their improvisations crossing each other by seemingly inconceivable parabolas, yet never descending into cacophony (which can in places be found, just for instance, in some of John Zorn's works). The emotional palette is also indescribable; it's just beyond our traditional perception and, thus, is something I think I should welcome. My favorite cut, Peroles y Macundales features another Banda Elastica member, flautist Guillerno Portillo, and is the only track here reflecting those musical preferences of Juan that are declared in the press kit. Meaning this composition can be viewed as a cross between RIO and Jazz indeed. The other five tracks are somewhat less impressive - above all because none features the entire quartet. Alzate appears as the sole performer on both Saltos Mortales Sin Red and Para Eso Me Pinto Solo, but nevertheless, each represents a little jazz concerto for a trio of tenor, alt and soprano saxophones two of which are certainly overdubbed. The percussion- and sax-laden Yo Soy Yo has an oriental-like ethnic feeling and would've been good if it were free of a recitative that, sadly, accompanies most of the music. Trane Salta, which finds the alto sax improvising to intense drumming, reminds me a bit of Avant-garde Jazz, at the same time provoking me with its defective sound, lacking any succulence. The concluding track, Para Alla, evokes similar 'stylistic' associations, but this is a better piece (the best among those located below the album's conventional equator in fact), with a thrilling interplay between the contrabass, sax and marimba.

Conclusion. The musicianship of each of this project's participants, their joint performance and their improvisational flair as well command deep respect. But while I can appreciate purely improvisational Jazz, I am not eager for it (to put it mildly), preferring combinations of this genre with rock and - best of all - composed progressive music. In short, I can't recommend "Autorretratos" to Progressive Rock lovers, even to those who can accept the jazziest of Jazz-Fusion's manifestations.

VM: January 14, 2007

Related Links:

Luna Negra Records


ProgressoR / Uzbekistan Progressive Rock Pages