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16th October 2013

A Really Lovely Review of 'The Road Ahead' by JazzTimes (USA)

The Road Ahead

The Morocco-born Albert Dadon came to Australia from France at the age of 27, where the guitarist immersed himself in the acid jazz scene, adopted the stage name of Albare, and later became the director of the Melbourne Jazz Festival and the founder of the Australian Jazz Awards. Like Albare's previous CD, Long Way, featuring George Garzone, Antonio Sanchez, and Hendrik Meurkens, this new quartet date with pianist Phil Turcio, bassist Yunior Terry, and drummer Pablo Bencid conveys a largely soothing ambiance emanating from his lyrical, finely crafted compositions (some co-written with Turcio). Albare's music recalls that of the Bulgarian guitarist Hristo Vitchev, who has coined the term "heartmony," which he defines as "the simultaneous combination of feelings and emotions, especially when produced by experiences, memories, and stimulations pleasing to the heart, body, and soul." This describes Albare's current offerings very well.

The atmosphere of "Road Ahead Part A" drips with Jewish Sephardic Morrocan harmonies, but Albare's guitar solo hints more at the blues. His guitar synth is what transports us to North Africa. "Road Ahead Part B" shares much of the flavor of Part A, but delves more deeply into the piece's melodic and harmonic charms. Terry's serene arco bass, Bencid's diverse rhythms, and Turcio's sparse chords form the substantive foundation for Albare's delicately woven solo. Turcio makes a succinct but profound statement before the leader resumes his reflections and then revisits the tantalizing theme. The gracefully sinuous melody of "Give Me 5" is played by Albare with an inviting, ringing tone. Turcio's piano solo is delightfully crisp and energetic, while Albare's speaks volumes with its thematically lucid turns of phrase. Terry's thunderous interlude precedes the reprise, and Bencid's expertly delineated cymbal colorations throughout the track are a notable asset.

"The Gift" possesses a vibrant, staccato line as presented by Albare's guitar, but it's his trumpet-sounding guitar synth that is utilized for a winding, very enticing improv. Turcio's spot combines streaming runs with tasteful ruminations, and Terry's effort exhibits his well-rounded articulation and singing expressiveness. Bencid has the final explosive, surging say over Albare and Turcio's stop-and-start chords and motifs. Albare plays the hopeful, spiritual "Expectations" with Bencid's sensitive ornamentations giving significant support. The leader's sprightly, well-formulated solo gets the keen backing of not only the drummer, but the in-sync Turcio and Terry. The pianist's exploration exudes a tender passion. Terry's bowed intro kicks off the uplifting "Heart of Heart," with its stalking rhythmic base and engaging melody. Albare's solo tells a congruous story as it wends its way through resolutely flowing extended passages, and both Terry and Turcio follow with emotionally committed observations. Bencid's echoing mallets and cymbal splashes highlight the prelude to Albare's delivery of the tender, pensive "No Love Lost." His solo is soft-spoken and spellbinding, with Turcio and Terry responding in kind with unabashed feeling.

"New Signs" is yet another logically conceived, lyrical Albare/Turcio theme that the guitarist expands upon with fleet runs that hold a restless vigor. Turcio's turn blends forceful chords with sparkling prolonged flights. Bencid's concluding workout builds powerfully with the encouragement of Albare and Turcio's sharp-edged chordal exhortations. Terry's dramatic arco initiation of "Tender You" segues into the romantic, indeed "tender" melody, with Bencid's accents impeccably executed beneath him, both here and also for Albare and Turcio's subsequent heartbreaking solos. The selection ends much as it began, giving the listener a sense of fulfillment. Stevie Wonder's classic "Overjoyed" features the esteemed guest vocalist Allan Harris, whose full-bodied voice meshes compatibly with Albare's sympathetic accompaniment. The guitarist's gently communicated improvisation ends the arrangement, with Harris softly intoning words from the lyrics as a kind of vamp.


Scott Albin  

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