Rejoining Pangea: Seattle’s Duende Libre, Featuring Bassist Farko Dosumov, Uses Jazz Savvy to Knit Continents and Rhythmic Sensibilities from Cuba to Turkey…
Once long ago, there were no continents, nothing to divide the great mass of land. Seattle-based trio Duende Libre’s tender, clever songs explore this notion, charting the imaginary folds and roads of Pangea, the ebb and flow of the world’s sounds.
Guided by founder and bandleader, pianist Alex Chadsey, Duende Libre prove that what drifted apart can drift back together, and that musical traditions are living things and therefore constantly in flux.
The Puget Sound and the Bosphorus, Cuba and Jamaica overlap and inform one another in pieces that wed jazz concepts with pop pleasures on Drift (release June 15, 2018; release celebration: June 29, 2018), the group’s second album.
“We draw influences from many different cultures and countries and parts of the world, and the album’s title is a tribute and invocation of these influences,” explains Chadsey. “We explored using different rhythmic feels and styles as a way to meld those sensibilities. That’s what I was going for: a musical pangea where borders become less rigid, and where surprising new sounds emerge in the grey areas between traditions.”
Chadsey comes by his global influences honestly.
Growing up with an ear for music from around the world, Chadsey developed a lifelong passion for Western classical and jazz, including pieces like Chick Corea’s “Spain,” covered artfully on the album by the trio joined by vocalist Chava Mirel. Chadsey applied his classical and jazz training to Latin music as a member of the GRAMMY-winning Quetzal and as a core player in roots reggae legend Clinton Fearon’s Boogie Brown Band. Chadsey drew on these experiences and a lifetime of curious listening as he embarked on his own project, tapping fellow open-eared Seattle musicians bassist Farko Dosumov and drummer Jeff “Bongo” Busch to create an original sound that Jazziz called “a strikingly authentic blend, one that has marked their city as an epicenter for musicians who share an appetite for bridging worlds.”
They take full advantage of Seattle’s wealth of global musical talents.
“Choro,” a piece a few degrees removed from the Brazilian style, pays homage to Jovino Santos Neto, a master pianist and composer whose work guided Chadsey. The grooving “Kiki” tips the hat to the Cuban son of Cuban cuatro virtuoso Kiki Valera Alarcon and La Familia Valera Miranda, his family’s long-standing band. Valera invited Duende Libre to join him for a collaborative concert, part of a larger series he was curating. “We did one gig together and I was so inspired by that encounter,” recalls Chadsey. “I wrote the piece for him. We are drawing on clave, but trying to do something different. I wanted to know what would happen if I took traditional figures and chord progressions from Cuban son, which is usually in four, and experimented with changing meters. It creates a whole different feel and has been a fun challenge for us to play.”
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