Miguel Fernández (ts), Jason Palmer (tp), Marco Mezquida (p), Masa Kamaguchi (b), David Xirgu (d)
Bar code: 8427328424776
Leading a quintet that combines zestful and pungent playing with relaxed yet controlled authority, saxophonist Miguel Fernandez here delivers a fresh, sparkling album of solid and original material. Throughout an impressively attractive program, he consistently applies his creative melodic intelligence to the needs of the music and the group with a deftly persuasive craft. And on tenor saxophone his own performance is a thoughtful synthesis of the work of bop and post-bop saxophonists, its flowing, luminous qualities enhanced by his purity of tone and a rolling, naturally propulsive sense of continuity. The intensity of the music here gradually ranges from more haunting moments into powerful but smooth, brilliantlky constructed transtitions to melodic statements. The solo work is excellent.
Trumpeter Jason Palmer contributes with fluid warmth, lucid sensitivity and melodic ideas, but keeps things hot and crisp, crackling with authority. Part of the music's success is also due to the sheer drive of the rhythm section, in which the buoyancy, virtuosity and imagination of Marco Mezquida on piano is a major plus. Employing everything from delicate, single-note lines to lush chords, he swings hard, but at his most characteristically personal it is his lyrical touch and ability to range coherently over the full keyboatd that stand out. Bassist Masa Kamaguchi's section work is strong, reliable foundation and his solos are economical and percussive, while drummer David Xirgu shows once more his ability to project arelaxed, floating rhythm feeling regardless of tempo. This is a group very much in rapport.
"This new album is partly reminiscent (in terms of material and style) of some of the recorded work of Scottish trumpeter and composer Colin Steele, similarly with more than a hint of folk influence, and theres also a hint of Wayne Shorter in there too. Mezquidas piano playing is a little reminiscent of Steeles pianist Dave Milligan, with his very varied and colourful chord voicings, in a two-fisted piano style thats sometimes hard-swinging, sometimes funky (check out No Rain Allowed), according to the needs of the music.
The compositions and arrangements (all by Fernández) and playing are engaging, and this sounds very much like a working band, rather than a collection of musicians assembled for a recording date. The relaxed, but dynamic rhythm section keep things ticking over nicely, interacting very well with the horns underneath some at times animated solo work and nice two-part harmony on the themes, only occasionally marred by some slight intonation issues in the horns, but this wont be the first very good jazz album to have slightly questionable intonation from time to time.
Later in the album the tracks become gentler, but importantly, it doesnt become boring as a consequence. The title track and La Monedita start more freely than elsewhere with tenor and bass, and tenor, respectively, but as a whole the album is very much about a band statement rather than individual performances. The packaging of the CD copy I received is a little minimal (probably because its a promotional copy), but go ahead and do that very unmodern thing of buying something first and then enjoying the music and liking it, rather than liking it first."
Dave Jones -Jazz Journal (October, 2015)