Ryan Keberle & Catharsis Practice 'Azul Infinito' on New Greenleaf Music Release [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt m.greenblatt@classicalite.com | Mar 23, 2016 05:47 PM EDT
Trombonist-Composer Ryan Keberle (Photo : courtesy Greenleaf Music)

New Yorker Ryan Keberle is in three bands. He's been around the world with singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens. He's been in the studio with David Bowie, Alicia Keys and David Byrne. He serves as Director of Jazz and Brass Studies at Hunter College. Playing jazz in Manhattan for the last 15 years has only made him more conversant in his particular field: South American music. On Azul Infinito (Greenleaf Music), he stretches the boundaries of music from Columbia, Argentina, Brazil and Peru.

He has a big bad-ass trombone sound fit to swoon over! Every original song on Azul Infinito is either dedicated to or directly influenced by a different South American composer that he's performed with. Opener "I Thought I Knew," for instance, features an Argentinian chacarera groove (a rural alternative to that country's more urban tango), changed up by the presence of poet Manca Miro who adds her own lyrics.

"Mr. Azul" is a take on an Argentinian Afrocentric folkloric tradition, in this case a fertility dance-bullerengue!-that pops and sparkles with delight throughout. "Eternity of an Instant," named after a quote from writer Jorge Luis Borges [1899-1986], goes tango. "She Sleeps Alone" is for Columbian composer Sebastian Cruz.

With Peruvian bassist Jorge Roeder, Chilean singer Camila Meza, trumpeter Mike Rodriguez and drummer Eric Doob, Catharsis is the type of band who can take Keberle's progressive notions of modern Brazilian samba and Argentinian zamba and mash 'em up against each other so that it comes out not quite either but not quite not...just somewhere in the middle. And that's the fun of Azul Infinito. It's a musical bastard. Rooted in tradition, yet stretched inside-out and upside-down enough so that it's a whole 'nother animal, making it a fusion of the best sort.

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