Tag Archives: Ricardo Gallo

Point of Departure review by Troy Collins

Ricardo Gallo’s Tierra De Nadie – The Great Fine Line (CF 209)
Colombian pianist Ricardo Gallo, who has been slowly garnering attention stateside as an ingenious sideman to such luminaries as trombonist Ray Anderson and trumpeter Peter Evans, currently serves as assistant to the Jazz Department of New York’s Stony Brook University under the leadership of Anderson. No stranger to recording as a leader, Gallo’s percussion-heavy Bogota-based quartet recently released their third album, Resistencias (La Distritofonica) to widespread critical acclaim. The Great Fine Line is the debut of Tierra De Nadie, an international ensemble inspired by a quote from the Argentine novelist Julio Cortazar, who stated “I think in music, for a long time, that ‘fine line’ that defines genres, or national and/or racial identities keeps becoming wider and blurrier, expanding a sort of “no man’s land” that is happy for us, or still dangerous for some.”

Joined by Anderson, saxophonist Dan Blake, bassist Mark Helias, drummer Pheeroan akLaff and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi, Gallo follows Cortazar’s edict, seamlessly blending Latin American folk traditions and modernist jazz innovations into a sophisticated hybrid that looks to both the past and future for inspiration. At its most vivacious, Gallo’s contrapuntal writing draws heavily from the earliest elements of jazz history, augmenting elaborate neo-classical arrangements with a collective energy that recalls the ebullience of Dixieland and the frenzy of the New Thing. Similar in scope to such veterans as Phillip Johnston and Henry Threadgill, Gallo’s embrace of the tradition knows no bounds, illustrated by the stylistic distance covered between the surreal New Orleans-inspired Latin number “Hermetismo” and the incandescent ballad “The Intervention.”

With a pellucid touch and broad sense of dynamics, Gallo unleashes an array of prismatic cadences, from pearlescent cascades to pneumatic clusters, modulating from foreground to background in magnanimous fashion. The adroit rhythm section of Helias and Aklaff underpins Gallo’s labyrinthine contours with syncopated cross rhythms, augmented with interlocking multi-hued accents courtesy of Takeishi’s exotic wood and metal percussion – when Takeishi is not throttling the skins himself in akLaff’s place, as he does for half the record. On the front line, Dan Blake’s sinuous soprano evokes the vocalized tone of his mentor Steve Lacy, making a complementary foil to Ray Anderson’s blustery tailgating. Their sprightly interplay and unfettered expressionism lends Gallo’s mercurial themes a sense of insouciant elation, especially on “Stomp At No Man’s Land” and the spirited closer, “La Piña Blanca,” which are surprisingly reminiscent of Johnston and Joel Forrester’s whimsical writing for the Microscopic Septet.

Evoking the concept at the heart of the album’s title, Gallo and company embrace myriad genres and styles in pursuit of a joyful noise rarely heard in contemporary jazz. Blake and Anderson’s animated call-and-response, the rhythm section’s roiling undercurrent and Gallo’s harmonious inventions gracefully integrate boisterous Dixieland licks, Latin American polyrhythms and regal formalism into a beguiling cross-cultural fusion that defies simple categorization.
http://www.pointofdeparture.org/PoD33/PoD33MoreMoments3.html

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JazzWrap review by Vern

Ricardo Gallo’s Tierra de Nadie – The Great Fine Line (CF 209)
I’ve discussed Ricardo Gallo’s many virtues recently. He is an artist who continually gets better with each album. The Great Fine Line, his first album for Clean Feed records is another marvelous addition to his growing cannon of material.

This sextet recording was done just a few short weeks after his mainstay quartet had finished its third release, Resistencias (Ladistrito Fonica). The Great Fine Line is a more expansive and freedom exploring outing in which the musicians including Gallo stretch their emotional muscle with wonderful results.

The album’s title refers to the famous Argentine author, Julio Cortazar (author of the amazing novel, Hopscotch) and his belief that music is a no-mans land and that everything becomes blurred. This is true when it comes to The Great Fine Line with it’s varying passages and moments of exploration by each member.

On “Stomp At No Man’s Land” Ray Anderson and Dan Blake take prime space to rip through chord changes as Ricardo Gallo controls the balance around the edges. An intricate battle ensues on “Three Versions Of A Lie” in which the interchanges from each musicians is bold and vibrant. Gallo’s use of two drummers for this session is also a wonderful choice. It does give distinct to each track. Takeishi’s performance on “Three Version Of A Lie” is superb and dominates the proceeding.

“Hermetismo” starts in melodic, gentle tones with Helias, Gallo and Aklaff leading way until Blake and Anderson join in to make it almost a contemporary bop-ish affair. It’s probably the most straight-ahead piece on the album but still having abstract undertones. Contradiction? I don’t think so.

“La Pina Blanca” starts like a homage to New Orleans before spinning quickly into varying level of free form point/counterpoint. Lovely stuff as each member quickly shuffles back and forth in time.

With The Great Fine Line, Ricardo Gallo continues to make his name on the new jazz community. The diversity of his projects and his compositional work is truly setting him apart from the pact. Another well deserved must listen.
http://jazzwrap.blogspot.com/

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

Ricardo Gallo’s Terra de Nadie – The Great Fine Line (CF 209)
Ricardo Gallo, pianista colombiano residente en Nueva York e integrante entre otros del Peter Evans Quartet, mantiene en activo desde 2007 su quinteto/sexteto neoyorkino Tierra de nadie. En él participan pesos pesados como el trombonista Ray Anderson, el contrabajista Mark Helias y el baterista Pheeroan Aklaff, además del saxofonista Dan Blake y el percusionista y baterista Satoshi Takeishi. El grupo toma su nombre de una cita de Un tal Lucas de Julio Cortázar en la que se definía a la música como una tierra de nadie. A partir de esa idea concibe este grupo como un lugar de encuentro en el que los músicos se puedan expresar con total libertad.

En su estreno, The Great Fine Line, el pianista no duda, como autor de las nueve composiciones, en introducir referencias folklóricas a lo largo de los temas del CD y que aportan un interesante toque de color. Sin embargo ni su papel como líder ni las referencias locales son los elementos más importantes presentes en su música.

El reparto democrático de los roles de los músicos en el grupo están presentes desde el inicio mismo del CD con “Intruders”, la pieza que lo abre. Allí cede el protagonismo a sus compañeros, y no es hasta bien entrado el tema cuando suenan las primeras notas de su piano. Una actitud que se va repitiendo a lo largo de toda la obra.

Tampoco es la inspiración folklórica el elemento prominente en la música del disco, sino sobre todo y fundamentalmente lo magníficamente engrasado que se muestra el grupo, en el que sobresalen especialmente un Ray Anderson muy inspirado y un Mark Helias que borda sus intervenciones. De esa manera todos ellos hacen suya la música -con algunos temas deliciosamente cantábiles-, llevándola a un interesante terreno de fusión multilingüe. Al contrario de lo que sucede en otros acercamientos de músicas locales a los terrenos del jazz, en esta ocasión el resultado de esta integración fluye con una magnífica naturalidad.

Como única pega a la grabación, que en realidad no es tal sino más bien una observación, aparece la cuestión de la disposición de los temas. Los seis primeros, los más extensos, son las piezas más logradas: “Three Versions Of A Lie” (con Ricardo Gallo especialmente inspirado y un magnífico intercambio entre este con sus compañeros), “Intruder’s”, “Stomp At No Man’s Land” y “Hermetismo”. Sin embargo los tres temas finales, especialmente “Improbability” y “La pina blanca”, dejan la impresión de haber sido añadidos para extender la duración hasta la hora de rigor en estos tiempos del CD. Quizás sin renunciar a ellos se les hubiera podido  haber encontrado una mejor acomodación entre el resto. A pesar de ello, son pocas las pegas que se pueden añadir al magnífico estreno discográfico de Tierra de nadie.
http://bun.tomajazz.com/2011/01/ricardo-gallos-tierra-de-nadie-great.html

Time Out Lisbon review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

Ricardo Gallo – The Great Fine Line (CF 209) *****
“Terra de ninguém” é uma expressão a que se associa à desolação do terreno esventrado por crateras entre as frentes de dois exércitos. Mas também pode evocar a rejeição de todo e qualquer senhor ou bandeira.
O quinteto Terra de Nadie, do pianista Ricardo Gallo (um colombiano radicado nos EUA) pratica um jazz moderno com influências caribenhas, mas que nada tem a ver com a exuberância histriónica e estereotipada do Latin jazz. O mérito é das composições de Gallo (ouça-se o balanço sensual e preguiçoso de “The intervention”) e do trombone de Ray Anderson, do contrabaixo de Mark Helias, do sax de Dan Blake e da percussão de Satoshi Takeishi (por vezes reforçado por Pheeroan akLaff).
Esta terra de ninguém parece ser um lugar fantástico para se viver.

All About Jazz-New York review by Stuart Broomer

Peter Evans may be best known as the virtuosic trumpeter of Mostly Other People Do The Killing, bassist Moppa Elliot’s simultaneous tribute to and
deconstruction of jazz traditions. Meanwhile, though, Evans has other dimensions, both as a free improviser and as a bandleader. Each aspect is emphasized in one of the contrasting bands heard here.

Parker / Guy / Lytton + Peter Evans – Scenes in the House of Music (CF 196)
Since the early ‘80s, the trio of saxophonist Evan Parker, bassist Barry Guy and drummer Paul Lytton has developed a profound level of interaction,
virtually redefining both the rate of musical information exchanged and the expressive potential of free jazz. Through the years, the group has welcomed a few distinguished guests, including George Lewis and Marilyn Crispell; for Scenes in the House of Music, Evans joins for a concert in the Casa da Musica, a gem-like concert hall in the Northern Portugal city of Porto. It’s tribute to the trumpeter’s intrepid creativity that he fits so well with the group, matching the sonic exploration of his solo performances to the rapid-fire shifts – in texture and in the alternately fragmentary and tumultuous rhythmic language – that in part define the Parker Trio. Each of the five improvised episodes is around 13 minutes long, identified by just “Scene” and number, and develops a shape of its own, often contrasting solos and duets with intense group dialogues. The interplay of the two horns is remarkable. At times Evans’ singular blasts and flurries can recall Don Cherry’s role as foil to some of the great tenor saxophonists of the ‘60s while at other moments he and Parker match one another’s timbres in a way that’s uncanny.

Peter Evans Quartet – live in Lisbon (CF 173)
Evans’ own band conception, as heard with his quartet at Lisbon’s Jazz em Agosto festival in 2009, is a radical mashup that layers the chord changes of standards like “All the Things You Are” and “What Is this Thing Called Love” with atonal and free elements, at times creating dense stacks of contradictory structures. These are sometimes employed freely by the band while at other times diverse parts will suddenly reassemble on a beat. Just as Anthony Braxton has in the past, Evans seems to reinvent the jazz crisis of the early ‘60s when chord changes were literally breaking up before one’s ears. If the most technically-gifted trumpeters of that era had a reluctant relationship with free jazz, it’s a joy to hear in Evans a trumpeter with the brash virtuosity of Lee Morgan or Freddie Hubbard who has embraced a radical freedom. His quartet here – pianist Ricardo Gallo, bassist Tom Blancarte and drummer Kevin Shea – tears into the special challenges of this music with rare aplomb. While descriptions of Evans’ hybrid music can suggest a bizarre stunt, it’s much more than that. It’s often genuinely beautiful, at times in a traditional way and also moving, in a way that seems quite new. While these bands are very different in their forms and textures, both CDs are among the most accomplished releases of 2010.

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

Peter Evans: un trompetista versátil
Hace mucho que en la escena del jazz no irrumpía un trompetista como Peter Evans. Sumamente versátil y fino estilista, tiene ya un bagaje más que notable. Integrante de los Mostly Other People Do The Killing, es también reclamado por primeras figuras de la libre improvisación. Evan Parker lo ha reclutado para su Electro Acoustic Ensemble y también le ha publicado un par de discos a trompeta sola (con lo que implica de apuesta personal por su música), en su sello Psi.

Peter Evans Quartet – Live in Lisbon (CF 173)
Entre la última hornada de grabaciones publicadas en Clean Feed, Peter Evans aparece en dos. Live In Lisbon recoge su participación en el festival Jazz Em Agosto de 2009 liderando el Peter Evans Quartet. Evans es el autor de todas las composiciones, muy buenas, y lidera un grupo que funciona magníficamente (con Kevin Shea, batería de los Mostly…, el pianista Ricardo Gallo y el contrabajista Tom Blancarte). Sin embargo ni lo uno ni los otros son lo más importante. Lo más destacable de la grabación es el magnífico nivel y la gran versatilidad que Evans demuestra (una vez más) con la trompeta, en esta ocasión con un jazz contemporáneo en el que hay unos cuantos hallazgos en forma de composiciones.

Parker / Guy / Lytton + Peter Evans – Scenes in the House of Music (CF 196)
Scenes In The House Of Music es radicalmente distinto. El trío formado por Evan Parker, Barry Guy y Paul Lytton es una de las formaciones más veteranas dentro de la libre improvisación europea. Este trío invitó a Peter Evans a participar en una de sus sesiones de libre improvisación en directo y el trompetista respondió a la perfección. No sólo funcionó en un rol al mismo nivel que sus tres compañeros como instrumentista, sino que se erigió en el líder del cuarteto en más de un momento. Tal y como sucede en las grabaciones de este grupo la música se va repartiendo en distintas fomaciones encontrando momentos para los solos (con Evan Parker y sus respiraciones circulares, o con Barry Guy y su forma de aplicarse sobre el contrabajo), los dúos, tríos y también para el cuarteto (obviamente). Los años de experiencia del trío provocan que su trabajo, que funciona sin fisuras, aparezca aún más sólidamente cementado gracias a la participación de su invitado.
http://bun.tomajazz.com/2010/11/peter-evans-un-trompetista-versatil.html

So Jazz review by Thierry Lepin