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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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CHRISTIAN HOWES

Southern Exposure

Resonance RCD 1020

 

 

1. Ta Boa Santa? (Are You OK, My Dear?)
2. Aparecida
3. Oblivion
4. Cubano Chant
5. Sanfona (Concertina)
6. Canción de Amor (Love Song)
7. Heavy Tango
8. Choro das Aguas (The Water's Cry)
9. Tango Doblado (Bent Tango)
10. Spleen
11. Gracias Por Illustrarnos (Thank You For Teaching Us)

Christian Howes - Violin
Richard Galliano - Accordion
Josh Nelson - Piano
Scott Colley - Bass
Lewis Nash - Drums

 

Accordionist Richard Galliano has made a fair few albums in recent years, but on every one I've heard he has maintained an almost incredibly high level of invention and technical prowess. His versatility is suggested by the fact that, virtually at the same time as this CD was released, Galliano also issued a recording of music by Vivaldi. On this album he is teamed with Christian Howes, an American violinist who can equal him in the above-mentioned qualities. The instrumentation may suggest the sound of the French musette from Richard Galliano's native country, but the predominant influence is the Argentinian tango of Astor Piazzolla, mingled with the Brazilian bossa nova. Howes and Galliano are supported by a splendid rhythm section.

The group's dynamism is evident from the very first track: Egberto Gismonti's Ta Boa, Santa? (Are You OK, My Dear?). This contains several changes of mood and some parts are almost hectic but it displays the musicians' technical mastery and the rich blend of violin and accordion. Scott Colley, Richard Galliano, Josh Nelson and Christian Howes contribute spirited solos, punched along by Lewis Nash's powerful drums. Christian's violin seems to embrace bluegrass and classical music as well as jazz. Sanfona is another Gismonti composition with a pleasing lilt.

Ivan Lins' Aparecida is a bossa nova named after a city in Brazil. Christian Howes coaxes all kinds of sounds out of the violin, and there is delicate interplay between violin, accordion and piano. Ivan Lins also composed Choro das Aguas, which is treated with tender lyricism by the whole ensemble.

Richard Galliano's devotion to the music of Astor Piazzolla is well-known, and Astor's Oblivion is both passionate and poignant. Howes' violin swirls emotionally and supplies a flamboyant cadenza to close the track. Ray Bryant's Cubano Chant gives the band a chance to let its hair down and perform with the vigour of salsa. Lewis Nash plays a drum solo against the background of a piano ostinato. It is significant that Nash and Colley provide subtle Latin-American rhythms without any help from extra percussion.

Scott Colley contributes a fine bass solo to Canción de Amor, a wistful love song which also contains some telepathic interchanges between Howes and Galliano. The latter wrote Heavy Tango, which is certainly vehement but also virtuosic. Tango Doblato is less drastic. It was written by Christian Howes, who says "I wanted to create a song related to tango that the NYC jazz cats could still dig into" - and he succeeded.

Richard Galliano's Spleen is a duet between him and Howes, evoking the spirit of the Left Bank and the musette. The final track includes a whole string section, apparently built up from digital contributions sent to Christian over the world wide web. It's a romantic piece with a sparkling piano solo from Josh Nelson.

This album is outstanding for its brilliance and emotion. Buy it.

Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk



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