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Reviews Mayquel González at the Jazz Plaza 2020 Festival. Photo: Rolando Cabrera. Mayquel González at the Jazz Plaza 2020 Festival. Photo: Rolando Cabrera.

Times of Peace / Mayquel González

even though today due to the rise of the digital world "musical creation" is becoming easier and, therefore, the appearance on the market of various phonograms, it is really difficult to find among so much music a sound material that we can call a "work of art", one that brings together aspects such as good taste, technical mastery of the instrument, virtuosity and simplicity. And that is precisely what Mayquel González gives us in times of peace, music made from and for the soul.

With the trumpet as his faithful companion, and after more than 20 years of artistic career, Mayquel finds his own path. Under the Colibrí record label, this album —which despite having won a Cubadisco award in 2019, is not available on digital platforms— it becomes a beautiful journey, where the balance between the autochthonous and the most universal codes govern the proposal. Made up of a total of ten themes counting the bonus track and with the musical production by Harold López-Nussa, times of peace uses jazz as a generic basis, a starting point to visit other sonorities such as the tango congo and concert music. 

Once we get into the phonogram something is clear: the quality is undeniable. This not only happens due to the presence of Mayquel, an indisputable hallmark of interpretive mastery, but also due to the joint work done by the rest of the musicians who accompany him, an all-star combo: Tony Rodríguez (piano), Ruy Adrián López-Nussa (drums), Gastón Joya (bass), Roberto Luis Gómez (guitar), Yaroldy Abreu and Otto Santana (percussion), among others.  

It really catches my attention the different musical moments that the album is going through. Intentionally or not, it goes through three conceptual levels: the first as an ensemble, where each musician is equally important; the second is designed to highlight the figure of the soloist instrumentalist; and the third, the most grandiloquent, reveals a different facet of the composer from the incorporation of a symphony orchestra.

Cover of the album Tiempos de Paz, by Maykel González.

Cover of the album Tiempos de Paz, by Maykel González.

As a "download" and with improvisation as the main resource to be developed, Euphoria welcomes us. This successful opening of the phonogram can be understood as a preview of what we will find throughout the CD: a solid and effective string of brass, simple yet well-crafted arrangements, timely improvisations, and great sensitivity.

Topics like Afrocuba and yamblues, (fourth and fifth track, respectively, both authored by Mayquel González), equally highlight the excellent work done by the wind instruments: Emir Santa Cruz (sax and clarinet), Heikel Trimiño (trombone) and Mayquel himself (trumpet). The clean execution of the passages written for this instrumental section, as well as the achieved timbre, refer us to the exquisiteness of orchestras such as Irakere and the band Afrocuba itself, to which he evidently winks with the homonymous song.  

Beyond the technical elements, the delicacy of some of the arrangements is also a point of attention. With a very accurate version of the song by guitarist Emilio Martiní Island, by maestro Ernán López-Nussa, we are shown the attractive combination between the refined execution of Martiní and the beautiful sonority of the muted trumpet achieved by Mayquel. In this sense, another version that stands out on the album, due to the freshness of its sound and the minimalist nature of its arrangement, is that of Drume Bold, composition by Ernesto Grenet. Accompanied this time by the powerful voice and good musical instincts of Daymé Arocena, Mayquel offers from his sensitivity what we could consider as a recontextualization of a Cuban music classic. 

At the height of the sixth track, the composition Equinox ―a true master class in the use of color by Mayquel― reminds us at times of the sonorities of the great folklorists of the 20th century. The use of the different sound masses of the ISA Symphony Orchestra attached to the Mozartiano Lyceum of Havana and directed by maestro José Antonio Méndez, added to the novelty that the woody timbre of the quena results for the record, executed by Rodrigo Sosa, they immerse us in a totally new world of nuances and textures within the phonogram. Something similar provokes the interpretation of the theme Messiah Julian by Armando Orefiche also accompanied by the orchestra, another obligatory work within the repertoire of Cuban “cultured music”. On this occasion, the Cubanness that Mayquel manages to transmit through the timbre and the improvisation of the trumpet work as an added bonus.

indisputably times of peace It is a work conceived by its protagonist from the greatest respect and serenity, in which good taste and elegance marked the way forward. The experience and musical sincerity of Mayquel González were not only reflected in his appearances as a trumpeter, but also in his projection as a composer, showing a work of great maturity and introspection, both at a compositional and spiritual level. Perhaps it was missing at times to see a Mayquel González more present as a soloist, more leader in most of the songs, this aspect being noticeable only in Touch, times of peace and Peaceful

Beyond the technical and compositional successes, wisdom and restraint, this phonogram above all gives us music full of light, good vibes and beautiful sound images. We have no choice but to welcome those Peace Times. 

Listen times of peace here.

Leannelis Cárdenas Díaz Always singing and smiling. There is no better way to face life! Musician and musicologist seven days a week. Cuban from head to toe, inside and out. Keywords: music, family, light, friends, wind, free, sunflower, smile, honey, Cuba. More posts

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