A musical autobiography of stunning clarity and precision.
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
When an artist releases a work that acknowledges his or her influence the end result is either a mediocre release of covers or an incredibly self indulgent pretentious piece of nothing that normally forgotten before you even finish listening.
Oscar Penas is different.
Oscar takes a more natural look at Brazilian music, a fitting tribute to Paco de Lucia along with some Cuban influences and a jazz standard. An improvisational gumbo of flavors highlighted with guest appearance from Esperanza Spalding, Gil Goldstein, and Paquito D'Rivera. The set list is an organic cultural immersion of sound and texture. "Rabo de Nube" is a Cuban standard amped up for the next generation. "The Everyday Struggle" features esteemed violinist Sara Caswell and the accordion of the great Gil Golstein for a decidedly personal riff on the tango. While others are preoccupied with theory and authenticity, Oscar Penas is a blank canvas for influences with the end result as a deceptively subtle nuanced sound that is warm, real, and utterly organic. Oscar's reharm of "Skylark" may well be the finest instrumental take on this classic yet.
While somewhat of a newbie, Oscar Penas is a technician yet with the soul of a free jazz poet. Oscar moves effortless over the fret board. Clean and precise yet with a harmonic movement that will have six string aficionados take notice. Another rising star whose musical stock is an arrow pointing straight up!
Tracks: Paquito's Choro; Rabo de Nube; Skylark; Paco; The Everyday Struggle; Etude No.1; Rain; Canco Numero. 6.
Personnel: Oscar Penas: Guitars; Sara Caswell: Violin (4,5,6,7); Moto Fukushima: Six String Electric Bass (4,5,6,7,8); Richie Barshay: Drums (4,5,6,7,8) Cajon (4); Edward Perez: Bass (1,2); Rogerio Boccato: Drums & Percussion (1,2)
March 28 / The Side Door / Old Lyme, Ct.
April 18 / BAMcafe / Brooklyn, Ny.