Album review

Daniel García Trio (with guests Ibrahim Maalouf, Anat Cohen) – ‘Vía de la Plata’

Daniel García Trio (with guests Ibrahim Maalouf, Anat Cohen, Gerardo Núñez) – Vía de la Plata

(ACT 9936-2. Review by Jon Carvell)

A will-o’-the-wisp is one of the more disconcerting phenomena that a traveller might encounter during a journey into the wild. An eerie light hovering above a patch of marshy ground, it’s created by the chemical decay of organic matter, yet has an undeniable beauty. Drawing the traveller from the path, it is beguiling and sinister in equal measure. This is the subject of Manuel de Falla’s Canción del Fuego Fatuo a melody immortalised on Miles Davis’s Sketches of Spain, and here the opening track for pianist Daniel García’s latest album Vía de la Plata.

The Vía de la Plata (the silver way) itself is an ancient trading and pilgrimage route that crosses western Spain from north to south, and it’s an apt title for an album drawing on García’s Iberian roots. Alongside this vivid heritage, García introduces an array of other influences, styles, and guest artists as if they were fellow voyagers encountered along the way.

French-Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf’s reading of de Falla’s Canción is characterised by a breathy tone and elegant arabesques, connecting to the tune’s elusive soul, whilst Calle Compañia combines distinctly Spanish flavours from guitarist Gerardo Núñez with harmonies and harmonic rhythm that wouldn’t be out of place on an Avishai Cohen album. Israeli-born clarinettist Anat Cohen features on the album’s title track, where lightning melodic turns are supported by the whip-smart duo of Reinier Elizarde “El Negrón” on bass and Michael Olivera on drums.

The Silk Road again features Maalouf, this time in a shapeshifting chart which evokes the romance of another ancient trade route and a wealth of eastern influences. Like many of the tracks here, the craftsmanship and level of compositional detail are exquisite. García’s arrangements are intricate and subtly balanced, and his achievement is to make our journey rich with musical variety and no shortage of wit and invention.

LINK: Vía de la Plata at ACT Music

Categories: Album review

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