PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Kip Hanrahan: Pinero

Robert R. Calder

Much as Kip Hanrahan wants you to know about Miguel Pinero and even roots and proper purposes of rap, you could postpone finding out till you'd heard this fine music. Needs no further reference but might inspire it.

Kip Hanrahan


Label: American Clavé
US Release Date: 2005-07-05
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon affiliate

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.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





ABBA's 'Super Trouper' at 40

ABBA's winning – if slightly uneven – seventh album Super Trouper is reissued on 45rpm vinyl for its birthday.


The Mountain Goats Find New Sonic Inspiration on 'Getting Into Knives'

John Darnielle explores new sounds on his 19th studio album as the Mountain Goats—and creates his best record in years with Getting Into Knives.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 60-41

PopMatters' coverage of the 2000s' best recordings continues with selections spanning Swedish progressive metal to minimalist electrosoul.


Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.