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  • Jonathan Widran

ALBARE & CO, Freedom

In my write up on Albare Plays Jobim, Vol. 2, the versatile jazz guitarist’s second exquisite, sonically expansive tribute to the Brazilian master, I mentioned that he was a musical citizen of the world by virtue of being born in Morocco, growing up in Israel and France and living for decades in Australia. From living in those countries and traveling the globe, he clearly has a perspective on the concept of freedom, political and otherwise, like no other.

Back from Jobimland and once again sharing soulful, inventive, alternately intimate and wildly adventurous original material, Albare’s got the sociopolitical meaning of Freedom (the perfect title of the album) on his mind on his latest venture with longtime partner pianist Phil Turcio and others (including Randy Brecker) which he refers to as “& Co.”

His insightful liner notes mention that jazz was arguably the first activist music that became the posterchild for emancipation and liberty along the way. From the plucky, easy swinging, then increasingly bustling title track through the sparkling, fluid and lyrical buoyancy of the closer “New Expectations,” the collection artfully – and with ample melodic, harmonic and global rhythmic diversity – confronts this tense time in western democratic history, where freedoms are slowly being eroded.

Though “Love is Always” is a sweet, reflective ballad, the mood is hardly serious and somber. In fact, tunes like the Latin-fired jam “La Fiesta, the hypnotic and whimsical fusionistic ode to the way “Randy Makes Me Smile,” highly impressionistic “Sketches” and bold, brassy and whimsical “Shimmozle” show everyone just how defiant and free jazz can be, passionately expressing Albare’s desire to pay homage to the genesis of jazz as an expression of freedom and celebrate its activist roots.

As Albare & Co’s Freedom reminds us, jazz is as essential an art form now as it was when reflecting completely different times in history over the last century.

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