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  • Jonathan Widran

GABRIEL ESPINOSA, Bossas & Boleros

At the end of the liner notes on his latest Zoho Music collection, Gabriel Espinosa caps a rundown of the stylistically eclectic, star-studded set list with, “I hope you enjoy this journey of gratitude and love with Bossas & Boleros.

Buoyed by a stylistic landscape artfully infused with his passions for the music he grew up with in the 60s in Yucatan, Mexico - including the titular bossa nova and bolero but also including his home region’s traditional dance “Jarana” – the multi-talented bassist, vocalist, composer, bandleader and educator bares his multi-faceted musical soul on everything from deeply personal, even heartbreakingly vulnerable themes (the wistful, spiritual minded “Amelia”) to reflections on the collective human spirit (the dreamy, lushly orchestrated “First Responder”) and even a bright and lively homage to a personal musical hero, “Pa Eugenio” Toussaint,” one of Mexico’s top jazz musicians.

While Espinosa plays bass on three tracks and lends the emotional riches of his Spanish vocals to three others (including two gorgeous vocal-piano duets with the incomparable Fred Hersch), he’s also in dedicated bandleader mode much of time, leading ensembles featuring guest artists Misha Tsiganov (piano), Mauricio Zottarelli (drums), Jim Seeley (trumpet/flugelhorn) and Anat Cohen (clarinet), with special string arrangements by Linwood Bell and a lush vocal arrangement by Jeremy Fox on a charming, nostalgic spin through The Carpenters’ “Sing” featuring New York Voices.

Speaking of which, Bossas & Boleros finds Espinosa continuing his long established collaborative spirit with that group’s Kim Nazarian, who lends her tender vocals and/or scat mastery to six songs, including the hopeful bossa “New Year,” a wordless duet with Espinosa himself.


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