Diego Pinera – Odd Wisdom
(ACT 9920-2. Review by Jon Carvell)
Uruguayan drummer Diego Pinera’s search for the perfect groove has taken him all over the world, from his upbringing in Montevideo to Cuba, to Boston’s Berklee College of Music, to Leipzig…with Berlin now where he rests his sticks. Odd Wisdom is his second album as leader and was recorded in just one day in New Jersey, with an elite group of East Coast stars comprising Donny McCaslin (sax), Ben Monder (guitar) and Scott Colley (bass).
McCaslin has form working with virtuoso drummers, having connected brilliantly with Mark Guiliana on their album Casting for Gravity and David Bowie’s Blackstar. But Pinera’s approach is approach is altogether more playful than Guiliana’s, and Odd Wisdom is suffused with a desire to find a musical sense of lightness.
The album opener Clave Tune for instance has a tightrope of a melody that feels much slicker than you’d expect from a one-day session, and so often across the 10 tracks Pinera pulls the rug from under your feet. There is never a groove that outstays its welcome, be it in the fluidity of Domingo (video below), the stuttering and glitching melody of Robotic Night or Pinera’s ability to give something as well-known as Blue Monk an altogether different rhythmic DNA.
There are also plenty of opportunities to luxuriate in the bass playing of Scott Colley. A regular with Herbie Hancock and Chris Potter, Colley’s supreme tone and melodic ability is showcased on Easter in Puglia, alongside spiralling ascending lines from Ben Monder.
Perhaps what’s most impressive about this album, is how clearly Pinera’s voice shines through amongst such bold and electrifying sidemen. Pinera could be forgiven for producing an album that feels thoroughly East Coast, but whilst this disc is undeniably cool and bold, it’s Pinera’s own vibe which transmutes these American flavours into something altogether richer and stranger.