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  • Jonathan Widran

ALBARE, Beyond Belief

There’s nothing inherently supernatural about veteran guitarist Albare’s latest album Beyond Belief – but the title appropriately captures his ever-magnificent and transcendent mastery of his instrument, his always poppin,’ deeply detailed soloing and his intuitive, often swinging interaction with pianist and longtime collaborator Phil Turcio.

After three excellent and provocative conceptual projects – two volumes of Albare Plays Jobim and the sociopolitical conscious Freedom – the Moroccan born, French and Israeli raised artist gets back to creating powerful, spirited and swinging original ensemble jazz without an overarching narrative or tribute in mind. Though there is a thoughtful, seductive ballad titled “Feeling Moody” about halfway through the tracking, in essence the set is all about Albare and Turcio setting different moods modulate according to how prominent and intense Phil Rex’s bass and Pablo Bencid’s drums are.

The spritely, lighthearted “Missing in Action” throbs along on Turcio’s hypnotic piano motif and the fast-paced rhythm section before opening up to two of the album’s most explosive back to back solos by Albare and Turcio. The festive and snappy “MAD’s Happy Day” is structured likewise, with Albare’s crisp solo giving way to one of Turcio’s most extended blasts of pure improvisational grace.

Other gems that may just defy your belief in what contemporary jazz can be are the funky and fanciful “I Believe” (featuring an bouncy, intoxicating Al Jarreau-styled vocal by Lionel Cole), the lyrical, elegantly romantic “Ladino Jazz” and fiery straight ahead romp (with some otherworldly guitar-synth touches at the start) “Sailing Away.” The one-two punch of “Hymn to My Friend” and “Hypothetical Retrospection” that closes the set captures the artful balance between gentle introspection and edgier jazz expressions that alternate throughout the album.


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