|Anibal Rojas - ah-knee-ball|
A mutual friend introduced me to the music of Anibal Rojas (ah-knee-ball) some months ago. He has a stunning clip of Body and Soul on Youtube. I remember wondering what he was up to now after checking out that performance clip. He’s up to plenty!
Rojas’ self-titled release features his pure tenor sound, world percussion and ethnic flutes. It would be hard to deny the huge influence Michael Brecker has had on this younger player. Despite the obvious Brecker influence, Anibal has created enticing tracks on this Cd, which are a perfect bed for his wonderful tenor sound. The influences are there however he does have his own twist on this popular school of playing – one close to my own heart.
The native Chilean turned Philadelphian - by way of Middle America - has a unique sensibility as evidenced in the opening track Los Andes, Part 1. His tenor soars over the percolating drums and percussion almost to the final cadence where the sound of ethnic flutes finishes the statement.
The second Cd track Tano’s Tuto, written for his son, showcases a mellower yet still driving side of Rojas’ tenor playing. About two minutes into the track the song takes a refreshing twist with Latin percussion break and bass solo interlude. Then it’s back to business as usual on this free flowing but unassuming melody. I was a little surprised by the distorted guitar solo toward the end of this recording. The element of surprise is something Anibal Rojas uses to his advantage throughout this record. In the end it works.
Le Montrose is full of surprises right from the beginning. The exotic sounds in the intro lead the listener to believe we’re in for something completely different than what follows – a funky smooth jazz jam. I found myself rocking in my chair while tapping my foot to this one – really just a great groove for Anibal to blow over. Just when I forgot the deceptive introduction the exotic world music sounds return briefly before the funky smooth jazz returns. There may be two different tunes going on here. I like them both.
I Carry You Heart, written for his wife, is a tender, contemporary ballad. It moves along rather as one might expect with the exception of some lyrical flutes and voices behind Rojas’ lush tenor sound. Anibal Rojas can burn on the tenor but here he lets his sound speak more than his technique.
Walking, Stellaluna and the more traditional Latin Live Crickets provide the listener with a more comprehensive look and listen to Anibal Rojas musicianship.
As the liner notes indicate, Rojas is a family man. He has penned songs for several family members on this release under his own name. Lay Down is dedicated to his mother. He writes, “A song about peace for my mother.” The song is hypnotizing with the sounds of quenas, quenacho, ocarina and acoustic guitar.
Just when you think you have a pretty good idea of what Anibal Rojas has up his musical sleeve he surprises you once again with The Midnight Zone. The sound of the EWI teases with shades of Brecker – how can it not? Rojas shows he has command of this instrument as well.
The final track Los Andes, Part 2 really sums up the experiences on this musical journey entitled ah-knee-ball. Now we can hear another voice from Rojas, this time the soprano sax.
Lastly, Anibal pays homage to likely his biggest influence, Michael Brecker on the bonus track Missing Brecker. The piano and tenor duo features Barry Sames underscoring Rojas’ mournful subtone. There are Mikisms (is that a word?) sprinkled throughout and a fitting tribute to the legendary tenor man now gone.
Anibal Rojas has put together a world class, world music influenced Cd with ah-knee-ball. He clearly demonstrates that he has many diverse voices all within this one musician’s soul.
You can find out more about Anibal Rojas and his recordings at anibalrojas.com
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