Iago Fernández: Luzada

Spanish drummer leads a quintet featuring Mark Turner and David Virelles in music that while virtuosic is distinguished by its subtlety

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I’ve got a lot of time for this one. The virtuosity, of which there is much, is unassuming, subtle, insinuating and free of empty gesturing. To my ear the compositions aren’t melodically memorable, but that seems irrelevant in view of how ripe they are harmonically, and the entire album’s shot through with an enticing quality that rewards the ear more generally as repeated listening yields further delights.

Add to that the fact that the players are distinctive in themselves, in the sense that they don’t overtly evoke a multiplicity of past voices, and you have something special.

At an early point in his career Mark Turner occasionally had Warne Marsh’s name linked with his, and while there might have been something in that at the time, Turner has now moved beyond that influence, and we need look no further than Doces for evidence of this as he solos like a musician unusually alert to nuance and dynamics.

In recent years the bass clarinet has assumed a profile outside of Eric Dolphy’s iconoclasm, and Joris Roelofs is a musician surely poised to raise that. He’s a sensitive player whose work lacks Dolphy’s jagged edge but compensates for it with his own musical intelligence, as exemplified by Lonely Child, where he strikes the balance between the compositional mood and the need of personal expression unusually finely.

As drummer and almost sole composer Fernández is surely staking his claim to the musical future with this album. In the former role it’s clear he’s familiar with the work of Paul Motian and Peter Erskine without either leaving a heavy imprint on his musicianship, while in the latter he’s clearly unusually attuned to the possibilities of the small improvising-within-structures ensemble, hence the distinction of this set.

Discography
Almas Viaxeiras; Doces; Arrolo Da Alba; Flor Esvelta; Cadeas Por Fin; Lonely Child; Springtime Paradox; Luz Da Paz; Purple Light; Curarei (62.16)
Mark Turner (ts); Joris Roelofs (bcl); David Virelles (p); Ben Street (b); Fernández (d); Sam Barnett (as) on 6; Wilfried Wilde (g) on 1 & 4; Yumi Ito (v) on 1, 4 & 9: Song Yi Jeon (v) on 9. Jazzcampus Studio, Basel, Switzerland, 27 & 28 September 2021.
Fresh Sound New Talent FSNT 644