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  • Jonathan Widran

Calabó, One Day at a Time

With the release of the Puerto Rican based Calabó’s rhythmically eclectic, delightfully swinging and sonically inventive debut album One Day at a Time, Latin music doesn’t just have a new guitar hero – it’s got a literal one- man jazz band paving the way towards a bright, fanciful future.

A veteran of his home country’s indie music scene, composer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jandro Rivas has been unstoppable since turning his attention to jazz a few years back. The lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist in the local band Abuelo Mundo picked up the electric bass and immediately got hooked on the improvisational and phrasing elements of jazz. Combining those passions with his long-established skills as a fluid player and master of infectious melodies, he has evolved into a true musical visionary under the name Calabó.

While most emerging jazz artists play it safe and stick to new twists on recognizable standards as a means of easy introduction, Rivas creates a beautiful visual universe of his own. Starting with the breezy and whimsically grooving opener “Chromatic Dream” and the brisk, balmy and sensual “Tropical Trip,” he takes the listener on a colorful journey through a typical beautiful Sunday in an island paradise (his would be PR, yours can be whatever strikes your fancy!).

Sonically, he goes beyond simply dazzling us with his snappy guitar work. He also showcases his equal prowess on bass and synths, where he creates everything from explosive organ sounds to trippy/spacey George Duke-esque effects. The unique impressions Rivas shares include the slow-burning blues-jazz jam “Salitre,” the sultry and seductive “Cuban Love” (featuring a powerful intertwining of guitar, bass and piano), the lighthearted soul of “Sunday Mist” and the wildly experimental, sonically expansive ballad “Awakening” (which feels like Duke contributed to from on high!).

The guitarist combines those out there synth runs with hypnotic percussion on the chill/R&B driven “Lonely Cabaret,” which features the plucky lushness of guest flamenco style guitarist Danel Diaz. Continuously pushing the boundaries of Latin jazz and jazz fusion, One Day At a Time hits nightfall with another rhythmically intoxicating, sonically expansive production on “Children of the Moon.”

While there’s no doubt that Rivas will continue with other projects, here’s hoping that this is just the start of an exciting career– and an inspiring new way forward for musicians and fans who love multiple styles of jazz.

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