Acuña – Hoff – Mathisen
Barxeta is a beautiful fusion album performed by a trio of keyboards, bass and percussion that delivers an impeccable set of tracks. I was already familiar with percussion maestro Alex Acuña, who has performed with many of jazz music greats. In this occasion he teams up with two outstanding Norwegian musicians who certainly deserve more attention.
The album opens with ‘Belarus’, a delightful combination of grand piano and synthesizer. Jan Gunnar Hoff quickly demonstrates that he is a superb keyboardist by producing tasteful synthesizer sounds. Jan Gunnar Hoff combines the melodic sensibility and dexterity of Lyle Mays with the edginess of Chick Corea. The rhythm section provides the right balance with creative and ever changing patterns that make the music exciting and entertaining.
Track 2, ‘Grande Castelar’ is much more power-driven, with a potent mix of electric piano, electric bass and drums. Jan Gunnar Hoff and bassist Per Mathisen treat the listener to dazzling interactions. A while later Alex Acuña gives a master lesson of top of the line drumming with an exciting solo.
The trio goes acoustic on the high-spirited ‘Embrace.’ This is followed by a spectacular exhibition of Alex Acuña’s expertise with a rhythmic piece featuring various types of percussion.
Per Mathisen’s elegant fretless bass plays the leading role in the easy going ‘Barxeta. It’s followed by ‘Tu Amor, a piece that combines Latin inspired piano, hauntingly beautiful electronic harmonies and creative soft percussion.
As the title indicates, the fiery ‘Havana Drive’ is inspired by Cuban music. However, the Cuban connection is closer to Irakere’s high energy fusion than Cuban son.
‘Indochina’ is an album favorite with its brilliant mix of electric fusion, exciting tempo changes and world music elements. It features some of the finest synthesizer work in the album.
‘Winds of change’ brings the pace down to mesmerizing laid back mode with a graceful piano/synth, fretless bass and percussion arrangement.
The spirit of Joe Zawinul appears in ‘Abogat Funk’in this dynamic jazz-funk piece that brings together Per Mathisen’s attention-grabbing vocoder, splendid keyboards and jazz-funk beats.
The album ends with a straight ahead jazz trio piece showcasing the improvisatory edge of the band.
The album was recorded in a studio located in the town of Barcheta (Barxeta in the local Valencian dialect) in the Spanish Mediterranean province of Valencia. The liner notes make reference to the great food the musicians had while recording there, including paella. For those who don’t know, the famous rice dish paella originally came from the Valencia region of Spain.
Barxeta is first class fusion with a blend of passionate, high energy and gracefully elegant music performed by three world class musicians.
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