Jorge Sylvester's Afro-Caribbean Experimental Trio
In The Ear of the Beholder
Jazz Magnet Records CD JAM-2003, 2001 (75:54)
Dan Macintosh, 9 December 2001
Jorge Sylvester practices a musical form of contraction, which is described as the mathematical search for what is essential and true by way of discarding the inessential, according to liner note essayist Ramsey Aameen. But while it's at times tricky, Sylvester's Afro-Caribbean experimentalism is by no means a cold exercise in trigonometry with a beat.
Sonny Rollins is said to be a primary influence on Sylvester, but the ears of this beholder also hear a lot of Ornette Coleman in some of the underlying sadness of his alto playing, and especially in the machine-gunning rhythm tandem of bassist Donald Nicks and drummer Bobby Sanabria in parts of "Tambor - The Mix."
Layered percussion, including cymbals and cow bells, may give a song like "Por La Clave" a traditional Caribbean feel, but modern jazz, contemporary funk and hints of Be Bop are also filtered through Sylvester's musical perspective. The aforementioned "Por La Clave" builds into a full-on battle of wills between Sylvester's mad improvisation and drummer Sanabria's primitive pounding.
Sylvester playfully acts out a cat-and-mouse-like musical game on "Sly Mangoose," which is a Jack Edwards composition most notably recorded by Charlie Parker. But the trio's take on it is anything but the straight bebop variety, as Nicks can be heard plucking his way funk-aly throughout.
The only other non-Sylvester composition is Alberto Barreto's bolero "Corizon Rebelde." Backed by minimal rhythm accompaniment, Sylvester slides his way through its sinuous melody. Here, his tone and musical passion shine brightly.
Much like "Corizon Rebelde," "Songoajira" is one of the few cuts on this album to follow a relatively predictable musical path. It draws its unhurried rhythm pattern from Cuban songo and guajira (hence it's name, a combination of these two styles), yet Sylvester sounds just as inspired as he does on his more experimental flights.
Whether he's pushing the envelope, or maneuvering within its relatively broad confines, Sylvester will find appeal with the ears of various different kinds of beholders.
performers Jorge Sylvester ,alto sax, hand claps, voice, cuica voice effect, maracas and cow bell; Donald Nicks, electric bass guitar and fretless bass guitar on "King's Highway"; Bobby Sanabria, drums and all bells
songs Tambor - The Mix · Sly Msngoose · Corizon Rebelde · Por La Clave · In The Ear of the Beholder - Por La Clave Part II · Songoajira · King's Highway · Tropicando