Review by Brad Walseth
Combining the folk music and tango from his native Argentina with jazz and classical influences, pianist/composer Emilio Solla's latest, "Conversations (by the water)" is marked with the spirit of adventure and sublime beauty that is indicative of much of the music that has been emerging recently from the NYC/Latin America connection. Solla currently lives in New York, where his New York Tango Project is making waves. This fifth release as a leader clearly shows an artist who is making serious, yet enjoyable music for a new world.
"Tango Changes" bursts out of the gate with tango flourishes with jazz changes. Solla's piano is the centerpiece, but Carlos Morera's bandoneon and Gorka Benitez' tenor sax are given free reign to add to the fun. Gorka is given the spotlight along with Solla on "Bat Gorkaren Tzat (One for Gorka)," which is one of the best and most beautiful compositions I've heard this year. The loveliness of this haunting ballad is nearly indescribable.
"Remain Alert" has a nervous and jittery energy, not unlike the Brooklyn subway train ride Solla references in the liner notes. Drummer David Xirgu and bassist David Gonzalez are joined by percussionist Aleix Tobias in providing the bumpy ride, while Benitez switches over to flute on this anti-paranoia number. Meanwhile, the title track is a solo piano, classically-influenced piece that sparkles along like sunlight on the rippling waves.
Drummer Xirgu's original "Urgix" is a rhythmic delight that will make you want to get up and dance. "El Ritmo Cambia (Rhythm Changes)" is a relaxed and pleasant song showcasing Morera graceful bandoneon. A cover of Enrique Delfino's tango number "Recuerdos de Bohemia" brings the song into more of a straight ahead jazz perspective quite successfully, while an unexpected vocal number featuring singer Xavier Casellas startles, but also shows Solla as being quite adept at writing in a popular vein. And just to show a dry sense of humor, Solla ends the album with "1'51," a tribute to John Cage's "4'33" that surprises as much as it entertains.