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Awakening / Adrian Estevez

Few people are more unknown to us than ourselves. A lifetime with a body and a mind in tow is not enough to unravel the skein of the self. Most people if you even question ithe makes his peace with it quite early on, but from time to time beings turn up who are particularly obsessed with this question. Adrián Estévez seems to be one of them.

It is logical, if we think about what it is. A young Cuban pianist who has decided to embrace jazz as a form of expression. If there is a route that has been traced and traveled ad nauseam in the last half century, that is it, so questioning your place in the (this) world is not unreasonable. "Who am I and what is my path?" seems to be the question that surrounds the ten compositions that make up the album Despertar (Egrem, 2022), Estévez's recording debut.

After several years tanning with artists such as Yaima Sáenz and Gastón Joya, Adrián considered that it was time to express himself on his own terms. Recorded in the theater room of the National Museum of Fine Arts in 2021, as a result of the Ignacio Villa creation grant (2019) awarded by the AHS, Despertar is, as its name suggests, a beginning, the initiatory journey of a 28-year-old who goes out into the ring hoping to find an original path.

Not going, the song that opens the album, puts the cards on the table, showing us the compositional skills of Adrián Estévez and his excellent mastery of technique. He is a fluid pianist, who bets on melody and an acoustic sound, a bit traditionalist, if you will. This does not make it less interesting, although its austerity is at least curious, at a time when its peers are committed to experimentation.

From then on, the rest of the compositions follow one another, and the suggestive titles reaffirm that idea of the search that permeates the entire album (Reflection, Looking for the exit, Spiritual, Be). The sequence that makes up Looking for the exit and Labyrinth is a good example of what characterizes this work. In the first we witness the deployment of a brilliant composer, capable of marking a route that is as clear as it is open to the instrumentalists that accompany him, which gives them a precious margin for them to release their improvisations. The second, on the other hand, tells us that he also has a series of tics to polish, particularly in terms of structure, but I want to believe that curiosity in conflict with boredom are powerful enough spurs not to see him get stuck there .

That said, my favorite thing about Estevez is perhaps his worst flaw. That serenity that he breathes into all his work and execution seems to anesthetize them and prevent him from making the somersault. He is able to capture the listener, but fails to annihilate him. listen carefully Despertar it is spending an hour enjoying an environment, but staying with the desire for something unexpected and memorable to happen. At the moment, his music is a pleasant surprise whose anchor is not able to find the bottom, and in the attempt it is dragged by the current. 

Hence, the best moments of the album are those where guests appear, as is the case of guitarist Héctor Quintana, in Reflection, and the trumpeter Rasiel Aldama, in the iron bridge, moments in which the energy of those other forces spur him on and bring out in his performance that extra that is missed in the rest of the album. (It is interesting to observe the process of interinfluences of the musicians of this generation that is not yet over 30 years old. In this intense participation in their respective projects, they have reached a very remarkable level of connection and stimulation, which brings out the best in them and It gives a very tight sound and chemistry. It remains to be seen if their personalities are strong enough to develop independently, but that's for the future.) 

As has been the trend so far this century, Estévez is a member of a generation of Cuban jazz players who have assumed other references beyond the Latin jazz that reigned in the patio for so long. His work shows influences from more contemporary and cosmopolitan concepts such as those of Brad Mehldau, Avishai Cohen, Vijay Iyer, and local references such as Roberto Fonseca and Harold López-Nussa. As expected of a debut album, the debts are still evident, the groping and explorations are still perceived. But Despertar It is much more than a promise. Adrián Estévez opened his eyes and, through music, is going to tell us who he is.

Avatar photo Rafa G. Escalona Father of a music magazine. Professional procrastinator. His goal is to be a DJ for a station at dawn. Prince of random. More posts

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