Friday, July 6, 2012

Donald Vega Spiritual Nature Resonance Records 2012

U.S. Release 08/14/12

The heir apparent to Mulgrew Miller in the Ron Carter Trio, Donald Vega is set to drop Spiritual Nature and make a brilliant artistic statement as both composer and bandleader. Hybridization of genre in the wrong hands can be the equivalent of an artistic death sentence but Vega makes a master blend of Jazz, Classical and Latin influences for a truly stunning debut on Resonance records.

Vega's band on this outing is a virtual all star showcase including Grammy winner Christian McBride on bass, Lewis Nash on drums, Anthony Wilson on guitar and Christian Howes on violin. The roots of Donald Vega run deep with his formal training in classical music and upon his move to the United States, his subsequent training with mentor Billy Higgins allowed his more formal jazz foundation to be set in stone for this most talented of Latin pianists. The ebb and flow is not only within the set of the compositions but the ensemble setting moving from trio to quartet to quintet allowing as Vega states, "...the music just played itself, like magic."

Kicking things off is the hard charging swing of  the Vega original "Scorpion" with drummer Lewish Nash owning the pocket and the harmonic textures created by a stellar front line horn section. Vega takes on and slays to Monty Alexander tunes which play right in his wheelhouse. "The River" and "Accompong" are delightful examples of the ability to run the harmonic table with an effortless virtuosity that borders on the infectious. Donald Vega's classical roots are given new life with his stellar arrangement of the classical piece "Etude Opus 8 #2" by Alexander Scriabin. A deceptively subtle Afro-Cuban vibe creeps into the work via the groove laid down by Christian McBride. The texture supplied by violinist Christian Howes is sublime for a post modern reinvention of classical music with a jazz twist. Vega is indeed a musical chameleon. A stellar solo work on "Falando De Amor-Tema De Amor" captures the spirit of the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic in exquisite fashion. The release wraps with the Benny Golson classic "I Remember Clifford" and is a delightful vehicle for both McBride and Nash and highlights what is essentially an incredibly organic performance where the music takes center stage.

An absolute winner!

Tracks: Scorpion; First Trip; River; Spiritual Nature; Accompong; Future Child; You Never Tell Me Anything; Contemplation; Etude Opus 8 #2; Falando De Amor-Tema De Amor; Child's Play; I Remember Clifford.

Personnel: Donald Vega: piano, rhodes; Christian McBride: bass; Lewis Nash: drums; Anthony Wilson: guitar; Christian Howes: violin; Bob Sheppard: sax; Gilbert Castellanos: trumpet; Bob McChesney: trombone.