Leaving aside other possible recommendations of this CD, at a very basic level it is a musically very good and very approachable set. Why bother to count the bits when its two dozen or so individually titled items (24 tracks) counterpoint what could be called jazz, Latin music, rising at times to passages of Italian operatic scoring. There are no jarring collocations of one idiom or another, and none of the cloudy anonymity which might be called wurl’d music (after certain homogenising practices possible on Wurlitzer machines?).
There’s nothing characterless and each transition from one item into the next holds up. There are many short items, maybe ninety seconds or so long, but there’s no bittiness, and everything holds together as a continuous musical work—and regardless of this also being a film score. Hanrahan’s methods as a composer collaborating with musicians
There are pauses, just as you’d find in Bach or Beethoven, Elgar or Ellington, and good tunes and rhythmic variety and splendid jazz playing—hear the trumpet of Chocolate Armenteros on “Look the Moon… (Carmen’s)” for control of colour and lyrical phrasing. I’d say, ask a jazz request show to play it, but the end of the trumpet performance is covered slightly by a little scrap of poetry spoken by Benjamin Bratt.
Then again, this is one of about half a dozen items or tracks originally issued on Hanrahan recordings over the years. Recycling isn’t the word; the commission of the film music seems to have inspired an extension of attention to the inspiration which was Miky Pinero’s poetry. So why not ask for this item as from the earlier Tenderness album?
Talking of talk, it should also be noted that there is not a great deal on this CD, or that much singing, Aguaybana Zemi is the longest track at just over six minutes, and it swings like the clappers (as I’d expect from anything with Andy Gonzalez on bass, let alone the percussion). Frankie Rodriguez sings and gets composer credit, and this comes from Jerry Gonzales’ album Ya Yo Me Curé with Jerry G. plucking quinto with gusto rather than (as on the little nightmare “Junkie Christ” which follows) playing trumpet. I like the booming bass guitar, and Jerry G’s huge tone behind the mute. The next title (18) is short and sour and the electric keyboard fills in (Peter Scherer) perfectly for the beyond the budget symphony orchestra which alone could have done as well. Yomo Toro plays cuatro, as he does on the brief following track, with Edsel Gomez reminding me of his playing at the very opening of the work. Then there’s (track 20) Lysandro Arias coming in like a whirlwind in the stormy Puccini music with multiple percussion, and Alfredo Triff plays some impassioned violin on track 22.
The whole work is a considerable experience, about the same level of musical intensity as Astor Piazzolla, who had Hanrahan record him, and reminders of Gil Evans or George Russell, putting things broadly to try to get the music straight.
Kip Hanrahan has mystified at least one reviewer, with the range of his music appearing on his American Clavé label. The publicity material sent rather crowds together references to forthcoming attractions on the label which I’ve no room to mention here. The publicity sheet didn’t either.
Possibly the foldout liner page doesn’t help, either, being rather arty, with a monologue and three postscripts, and, well, I mean, man, the sort of fumbling if not fuddling stuff from Hanrahan which might deflect folding stuff some listeners would be happy about having shelled out when they heard what the little orange-topped disc could induce their audio system to sound like,
I shan’t say anything about Miky Pinero or his writing or the statements made about specifically him and them in Kip Hanrahan’s liner monologue. Even if he was only a morally interesting passing phenomenon, but a human being like many mostly unknown and loved and mourned, he inspired this music and this music is inspired (unlike the silly typography which tries to be clever but messes up on the question of not being immediately informative). If that annoyed me more, I’d still have this music to console me.