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  • Jonathan Widran


A true musical citizen of the world, pianist and composer Dimitri Landrain showcases such effortless facility and mastery of Argentine, Brazilian and other Latin music forms on the perfectly titled Astor’s Place – the debut album of his trio with bassist Jim Robertson and drummer Keith Balla – that it might surprise listeners to know he’s actually a French born artist living in NYC.

His fascination for all things Latin emerged during his college years at Berklee, when he received an offer to tour as a bandleader on a cruise line whose ports included stops in Brazil and Argentina. From the charming, easy flowing breezes and punchy improvisations of the title track – a tune featuring a similar progression to Astor Piazzola’s “Libertango” – to the sultry, golden age of Cuba expressed on “Hotel Bar” and “Entangled”’s dashing, romantic swirl of rumba, beguine and tango, each tune plays like a stop at another locale in Landrain’s fascinating musical journey.

Perhaps the most dramatic ode to a single cultural influence is the one two Brazilian punch of “Eight Years,” a brisk but understated samba, and the more emphatically celebratory “O Carnaval,” an ode to the music folks dance to in Rio’s “Sambadrome” during Carnival.

While Astor’s Place is mostly an expression of Landrain’s love for different facets of Latin jazz, he ventures beautifully into more mainstream jazz territory on pieces like the melancholy ballad “Lovers in the Rain” and the soulful, gently lilting “Waltz for Billy,” a tribute to Billy Strayhorn.

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