Alexis Baró appears to have found a voice that is at some distance from his past one. It is, indeed, the mature Alexis Baró: high sprung and now with a finely-tuned howl. His extraordinarily adventurous performance on Sandstorm reveals his debt to famous instrumental predecessors, from Alfredo “Chocolate” Armenteros to Miles Davis deep within the throes of his now famous electric period. It’s a fascinating musical journey through this young Cuban-Canadian master and takes us through a songwriting showcase that reflects how his 21sth century urban life has transformed him and it is clear throughout the fine repertoire on this album.
All of the music is eloquent, funky and effervescent. At first the title Sandstorm might seem at odds with the urban metaphor that Mr Baró is trying to portray here, but perhaps one should consider that very metaphor to stand for the fine mixture that is reflected in the glow of the music. The song poetry is superb and with Mr Baró’s high and lonesome style of playing results in a profound meditation on his new home (Canada). In this regard one is struck by the transformation of the glorious lullaby “Drume Negrita” which features some of the most gorgeous and agile trumpet playing on the entire album. Here the rendition of this iconic Afro-Cuban song is borne aloft on the trumpeter’s delicate, shimmering playing.
The same brilliance is also reflected in Mr Baró’s original material – in particular – on the “Sandstorm” suite with which he opens the proceedings. Here his iridescent melodic excursions are superbly matched in the spellbinding accompaniment of keyboards of Jeremy Ledbetter, bassist Yoser Rodriguez and drummer Amhed Mitchell. The mood flips between lyric, sensual, ruminative, teasing and dramatic, so there is plenty in the suite to delight newcomers to Mr Baró’s work as well as connoisseurs of fine trumpet playing.
It bears mention that the trumpeter also calls upon other teams of players – including keyboardist Anthony Brancati, bassist Andrew Stewart and drummer Anthony Daniel to bring their own responsive playing to his (Mr Baró’s) music. The inimitable Larnell Lewis also makes an appearance on the mesmerising song “The B Side of A” and “The Funky One”. And when, or wherever Mr Lewis appears, the sparks always fly. Mr Baró’s wonderful album Sandstorm is no exception.
Track list – 1: Sandstorm (Intro); 2: Sandstorm; 3: Noche; 4: Path to Freedom; 5: The B Side of A; 6: Drume Negrita; 7: El Viento; 8: Central Baro; 9: The Funky One; 10: Ever Growing; 11: Come Together
Personnel – Alexis Baró: trumpet and electric trumpet; Jeremy Ledbetter: piano (1 – 3, 7, 10, 11) and keyboards (1, 10, 11); Yoser Rodriguez: contrabass (1 – 3, 10, 11) and bass (7); Amhed Mitchell: drums (1 – 3, 7, 10, 11); Anthony Brancati: keyboards (4 – 6, 8, 9), organ (5) and Moog bass (6); Andrew Stewart: electric bass (4 – 6, 8, 9); Anthony Daniel: drums (4, 6), drum programming (6); Larnell Lewis: drums (5, 9)
Released – 2018
Label – G-Three Records (GT 0015)
Runtime – 51:32