Review: Épocanova - Live Demo
|Date of Release:||2011|
|Country of Release:||UK|
2. World Music
|Sub-Genre/s:||1. Contemporary, Latin, Latin Fusion, World Jazz, Post-Bop
2. Latin, Latin Fusion, Caribbean
|Date of Review:||2011/12/20|
Épocanova - Live Demo
Épocanova's Live Demo was recorded at a number of gigs during 2011. As such, it is just that - a demo. Recorded under less than ideal conditions. However, it more than sufficiently grabs ear and attention to warrant review. This is music with a difference, something unique and special not often heard on the UK scene.
For a start, there is an unusual, and also illustrious, line-up, consisting of joint leaders pannist and vocalist Susannah Flack, an exceptional steel pan player, and woodwind virtuoso Roberto Manzin, one of the finest and most versatile saxophonists on the British scene, with polymath ace pianist Roland Perrin, UK based Cuban ace bassist Rey Crespo, and fine drummer Michel Castellanos, all renowned in their own right. This quintet is sometimes augmented to a septet by the addition of the extraordinary conguero Oscar Martinez and the fine guitarist Filipe Monteiro. On this demo, Martinez is present on two tracks, while on some tracks, keys are replaced by Chris Jerome and drums by Richard Bailey.
If this line-up seems eclectic already, the music is even more so. Fundamentally, Épocanova blend the music of the Caribbean and South America, in a mix of mainly South American classics and originals, and come up with a funky, high energy new sound, with Ms. Flack's steel pan always featuring prominently. Depending on your particular proclivities, you may call it either world music or jazz, or both, or world jazz. Whatever. The music certainly blends world music with serious jazz and does not take the latter lightly. The jazz chops come principally from Manzin and Perrin, but Flack is not to be underestimated in this context, either. It is not too often that we have heard steel pan in a serious jazz context, and Flack is one of less than a handful of players - whether from Trinidad & Tobago or elsewhere - who can justly stake a claim to this territory. (And I am going back some quite considerable time here.)
Regardless of whether you approach Épocanova's music from a world music or jazz angle, this is fresh and exciting music. Manzin's arrangements are superb, even stunning, whether of Brazilian classics such as Tom Jobim's, or Kenny Barron's amazing Sunshower, or Flack's stunning originals. Susannah Flack, in her two originals here, has come up with compositions that could have come straight out of Brazil (she is of partly Brazilian descent herself), though there also are hints at the music of Trinidad & Tobago.
The ensemble playing throughout is exceptional, the soloing outstanding, particularly, naturally enough perhaps, Manzin's, as well as a breath-taking conga solo by Martinez. Flack's steel pan is sheer delight, and she is undoubtedly one of the very few pannists from outside Trinidad & Tobago who can hold her head high there. However, it has to be said that although competent, on this recording her vocals do not sound particularly outstanding. This may, of course, be due to the recording, and I expect that Ms. Flack sounds quite different when heard live with a good sound mix.
All in all, this music is as fresh as it is refreshing, highly appealing, exciting, something very different and new, and indeed a delight. There is a touch of magic here. I can only hope that I will get a chance to hear Épocanova live soon, and it is to be hoped most fervently that we will see an album from this exciting band soon. For a demo, this is amazing, and it promises so much more!
1. São Coisas Nossas (Noes Rosa, arr. Manzin/Flack) - 7:20
Susannah Flack - steel pan (all tracks), voice, pandeiro (tracks 1, 5, 7)
Roberto Manzin - sax
Roland Perrin - keys (tracks 1, 5, 7)
Chris Jerome - keys (tracks 2-4, 6)
Rey Crespo - bass
Richard Bailey - drums (tracks 1, 5, 7)
Michel Castellanos - drums (tracks 2-4, 6)
Oscar Martinez - congas (tracks 3, 6)
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