Category Archives: CD-Reviews

Review a CD / album

Silvio Caroli: Flowing

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The album I would like to present today comes from Italian pianist and composer Silvio Caroli. His album “Flowing” is the result of a prize in a competition in Italy which he won and which allowed him to produce this record. It was released in December 2018 and found it’s way to my desk last month.

Silvio Caroli is a pianist, composer and educator from Lecce, Italy. He graduated as classical pianist in 2005. In 2012 he received a jazz scholarship at the Lecce State Conservatory and he also studied Economics and Finance at the  University of Salento. He works as a music teacher and sheet music arranger for musicnote.com. So we see, this is quite a talented and multi-facetted guy. The various influences, impressions and experiences are also reflected in this piano solo album.

The album starts with “Into the Dark”, a composition from the book “Microrock” for piano students from Christopher Norton, a composer from New Zealand. The arrangement from Silvio Caroli combines this short tune with elements from “Pines of Rome”, a composition by Italian composer Ottorino Respighi. This combination works very well, the part from Christopher Norton is played very powerful while the Respighi’s part has this 19th-century impressionistic touch. A beautiful contrast.

“Martha”, the second tune is composed by Eliel Lazo, a cuban percussionist and friend of Silvio. This tune is a soft modal composition and Silvio Caroli uses this harmonic frame to improvise in Ravel or Debussy-style, which gives this tune again this impressionistic feeling, which I like very much.

The next song is called “Part of Your World” and is from the movie “The Little Mermaid”.  Silvio Caroli starts this pop-ballad softly and gentle but increases the intensity and brings the song to a dramatic peak inspired by Liszt and Rachmaninoff.

“Beirut” a composition by trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf comes next. Silvio explained to me: “This song really touched my heart, I imagine that this song speaks about love and suffering at the same time, and for that reason I dared to quote the theme of Schindler’s List by John Williams in my improvisation. A lot of people appreciate the performance of “Beirut”, and that was a real surprise for me, because it is the most simple arrangement that I’ve ever made”.

“And Sammy Walked In” by Michel Camilo is the next tune. Michel Camilo comes from the Dominican Republic and Silvio Caroli had the chance to lead workshops in Santo Domingo, so he met and played with musicians from that country. This tune is the tribute to his friends there and according to Silvio people go crazy (in Italy and the Dominican Republic) when he performs it in a concert. It is the most jazzy tune on the album and was also my favorite right from the start.

The last song on the album is “Porz Goret” by French multi-instrumentalist and composer Yann Tiersen. He is famous for the soundtrack to the movies “Amélie” and “Good Bye, Lenin!” This tune is a soft ballad in 3/4 meter beautifully performed and leaving us listeners in a melancholic mood.

What I like about this album is the very personal selection of songs and arrangements, combining elements from Jazz,  Caribbean, classical and film music. It looks like Silvio Caroli has found his individual voice and he created an impressive solo album. I am a big fan of impressionistic music and painting and this album is like an echo of this period that has been brought back into life.

If you want to hear more from Silvio you can follow him on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/silvio.caroli

The album is available on Spotify

Q Morrow: There Are Stars In Brooklyn

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Today I would like to present another guitar player from New York City, his name is Q Morrow, and he grew up in Idaho before studying classical and jazz guitar in California and Texas. He also spent a year studying Carnatic music in Bangalore and has settled now in Brooklyn, NY where he is an active part of the music scene.

He plays (as you can see) a classical guitar with nylon strings and that characterizes his music and the sound on his new release “There Are Stars in Brooklyn”.

The album features:

  • Q Morrow – Guitar
  • Will Vinson – Alto Sax
  • Evan Francis – Flute, Alto Sax
  • Sam Bevan – Bass
  • Raj Jayaweera – Drums

The line-up is special with two alto saxes and a flute, but my experience is that flute and alto sax fit perfectly together with a guitar, because the guitar frequencies are quite low and so there is not much of an overlap with the wind instruments.

The album starts with the title song “There Are Stars in Brooklyn”. Q plays a beautiful solo intro, the head is then played by Flute and Sax , the band grooves nicely. The melody and guitar solo is inspired by classical guitar music while Evan Francis on flute and Will Vinson on Alto Sax play their solo with much more modern jazz inspiration.

The beginning of the second song “The Do How” reminds me of Sylvain Luc (another master of the nylon guitar from France which I used to listen a lot to) but the song becomes rhythmically much more complex. Q explains: “One thing in the album that warrants explanation is the metric modulations on track 2. What I’m experimenting with there is the temporal reflections (interpreted with metric modulations) of the chord changes’ relationship to the tonic of the key. In other words the length of each chord change correlates to the length of the wavelength of the root note of the chord as it relates to the tonic (F# in this case). So a D chord will last for 5 beats, a C# for 4 1/3 beats, a B for 3 (or 6). And it gets more complicated from there. All of the changes fit within the framework of 5/4 time, based on the idea of Mora in Carnatic music where complex, over-the-barline rhythmic phrases fit into a larger beat cycle framework. The bass maintains a 5/4 ostinato figure throughout to illustrate the original tempo. The B section of the title track is also based on the Karnatic mora, but in 7/8 time. So those tracks are my attempt to unify harmony and rhythm in the spirit of experimentation, something I’ve been working on for a few years now and will continue to do in the next couple of years”.

A very interesting concept behind this song. The composition is done in a way that it returns back to 7/8 time intro which gives the listener a fixed point.

The next tune is called “Pupusa da Jamaica” and is based on the Cuban folkloric rhythm Guaguanco. Even if the tune is in straight 4/4 time the band enjoys a lot of rhythmic freedom here as well.

“Sueño de Miel” (which means Dreaming of Honey) is named after a dream Q Morrow had when he was gathering honey in the South American jungle with an indigenous tribe. It shows Q’s mastery of the classical guitar. The tune is written down like a classical composition ( Q was so kind to share the sheet music with me) and is inspired by Venezuelan Joropo dance music.

“Chinook Passing” comes next and this song is clearly inspired by Spanish flamenco and tango, sounds very European and reminds me again of Sylvain Luc and his style of Basque folklore and Jazz music.

“Inferno Astral” is another tune for classical solo guitar. The constant 32nd notes are meant to evoke pouring rain. There is a live version of this available on Youtube, so if you want to see the exact fingering of this tune, here is your chance:

The album continues with “Not Quite Sure Yet”, another experiment in rhythm/wavelength relationships as described above. Also an homage to Q Morrow’s early roots in the Northwestern US (Idaho) which he describes as grunge rock. A very interesting song with multiple changes in rhythm and feeling. Great solos by guitar and saxophone and my favorite song on the album.

The last tune is “Loose Ends” which Q Morrow describes as a Blues with a vamp section, rhythmically straight but with multiple harmonic centers. A straight modern jazz tune played very well.

The album is a eclectic compilation of Q Morrow’s compositions. It shows his versatility as composer, arranger and musician and includes all different aspects and influences that he was exposed to and which found their way into his work. He has surrounded himself with excellent musicians who are able to understand and realize his ideas. This release is another perfect example of today’s Jazz music that gets inspired by the individual path of each musician.

More information about Q Morrow is available on his website:
http://www.qmorrow.net/

The complete album is not available on Spotify but the two songs “There Are Stars in Brooklyn” and “The Do How” have been released as single songs and are included in my 2019 playlist.