Album of the Week: Réplica, Eric Kurimski

by chip on September 5, 2008

Eric Kurimski
Lima Limón Records

When two genres meet, early incarnations often seem like a hazy vision of future possibilities. Without the precedent set by decades of musical history, our ears can’t anticipate the new sounds or appreciate artistic risks. We need artists with clear visions to guide us towards an understanding of young stylistic combinations. These artists need to present the music with a straight-ahead honesty that connects to the parent genres clearly. The musician needs to pique our interests with an artistically driven sense of exploration and self-reflection. A deep involvement with both genres should inspire the artist’s performance, fueling their work with a genuine authenticity. Until this type of artist arises, our ears slowly adjust to the new blend of musical aesthetics, while we remain in the dark about the new genre’s possibilities. Then a recording will arise that snaps our vision into a space of total clarity; our uncertainties disappear and the music makes complete sense. Guitarist Eric Kurimski provides that clarifying vision of Afro-Peruvian Jazz on Réplica, an intriguing collection of music that draws upon his extensive experience with Peruvian music and jazz.

Drawing Upon His Experience With New York’s Afro-Peruvian Jazz Scene
Three songs emanate from Kurimski’s involvement with the burgeoning Afro-Peruvian Jazz scene in New York City. Bassist Edward Perez and percussionist Juan Medrano Cotito establish a driving festejo foundation on “NewYorkTitlán” before Kurimski provides a minor melody. Guitarist Yuri Juárez aggressively creates rhythmically interesting lines and quick runs until Kurimski builds from sparse melodies into a flurry of ideas. The texture thins as Perez constructs an engaging solo through rhythmic variation, leading into Cotito’s exciting cajon improvisation. Perez contributes “Yo No Como Camote,” a clever blues played over a festejo. Kurimski mixes blues notes with stylistically appropriate phrasing and syncopated chords while guitarist Sergio Valdeos assertively creates tension with repeated rhythmic ideas. Perez cues into the genre’s true essence with a series of drum-like melodies until Kurimski and Valdeos frame Cotito’s statement with several breaks. Kurimski spins a gentle melody against a landó rhythm on his composition “Hope For Spring.” Building upon the strength of the melody, Kurimski carefully creates an engaging statement that utilizes flowing melodies and defined rhythmic attacks. Valdeos constructs a potent improvisation full of energetic beauty while Perez shapes an understated melodic idea into a thoughtful statement. These songs show Kurimski stepping between two worlds, creating music based in rich Afro-Peruvian rhythms and New York infused jazz harmonies.

Looking At Music Through Afro-Peruvian Aesthetics
Three tracks reflect Kurimski’s experience with diverse styles, and his ability to view his background through Afro-Peruvian music. Kurimski puts a distinctly different spin upon John Coltrane’s classic composition “Giant Steps,” by placing the song over the slow 6/8 rhythm of a landó. The moderate tempo allows Kurimski time to explore the rich harmony with quick melodies and rhythmic ideas. Perez immediately locks into the cajon rhythm with some percussive lines before winding strong melodies through the classic chords. Kurimski’s arrangement of the traditional Columbian folk song “Ronca Canalete” places the tune over a festejo, giving it a natural propulsion. Vocalist Charo Goyoneche shines throughout the track, giving the song an earthy edge and an underlying intensity. Bassist Joscha Oetz and Kurimski both take brief but inspired improvisations that reflect the song’s energy, and Cotito provides a particularly enthusiastic cajon solo. The Peruvian song “Toro Mata” receives a traditional reading over a landó rhythm, grounded by tightly knit playing between Kurimski and Oetz, as well as Goyoneche’s commanding vocal. After the initial statement of the melody, Cotito embarks upon a solo statement that resolves into an arranged duet with Kurimski. Goyoneche returns with the power of a coro behind her and an increased tempo, driving the song towards a climatic ending. These pieces reflect Kurimski’s ability to pull influences from a variety of jazz and folk traditions, and then examine them through Peruvian music.

Integrating The Peruvian Valse
Kurimski explores the Peruvian valse on two tracks, finding a balance with jazz harmonies. Kurimski captures a folk aesthetic on “Desesperación,” a collaboration with influential Peruvian musician Carlos Hayre. As Hayre creates some interesting syncopations against Cotito’s cajon, Kurimski confidently presents the melody with crisp articulations and elegant ornamentations. Moving into an improvisation, Kurimski injects a sense of personal identity while maintaining a connection to the specific valse phrasing. “Despertar” moves the valse towards a jazz influence with richer harmonies and a relaxed feel. After sensitively performing the melody, Valdeos transitions into a carefully constructed solo that emphasizes his sense of melodic invention. Kurimski follows with an improvisation that plays upon the arrangement’s jazz elements until Perez improvises intently with a sparse cajon accompaniment. These tracks link Kurimski to a sense of authenticity and a wider spectrum of Afro-Peruvian music.

An Essential Step Into Afro-Peruvian Jazz
Kurimski clears the haze around Afro-Peruvian Jazz on Réplica, with a smart, accessible, and engaging album that guides our ears into the heart of this young Latin Jazz style. Afro-Peruvian musical traditions and jazz sit comfortably next to each other throughout the album, giving the impression of a genre with years of history behind it. The vocal tracks create a context for the music, and introduce the listener to traditional Peruvian performances. Kurimski’s incorporation of Peruvian valses shows artistic depth and reflects a more extensive study of the music. The jazz influence stays intact when Kurimski focuses upon Peruvian traditions though; he fuses the songs with improvisation and rich harmonies. Kurimski’s performance shines with strength, supported by a wide group of musicians deeply entrenched in both styles. The presence of Peruvian legend Carlos Hayre adds weight to the recording and serves as a sign of Kurimski’s authority. Perez emerges as a particularly insightful collaborator, spinning smart jazz lines while staying closely connected to the cajon. Cotito provides the music’s heartbeat; filling his cajon performance with respectful authenticity, jazz influenced improvisation, and an emotional investment. For uninitiated ears, Réplica is an essential step into Afro-Peruvian Jazz; it reveals the genre’s inherent possibilities and then fulfills them, making sure that listeners will not only see the genre clearly, but also return to it continuously.

Check Out These Related Posts:
Album of the Week: The Year of Two Summers, Edward Perez
Exploring Afro-Peruvian Jazz
Album of the Week: Nuevo Mundo, Gabriel Alegria
Afro Peruvian Jazz Videos

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PasacheMusic September 7, 2008 at 8:47 pm

In Réplica we were able to gather all of the best Afro Peruvian musicians in Lima, Perú, thanks to the great work of Eric.

PasacheMusic September 7, 2008 at 8:47 pm

In Réplica we were able to gather all of the best Afro Peruvian musicians in Lima, Perú, thanks to the great work of Eric.

PasacheMusic September 7, 2008 at 8:47 pm

In Réplica we were able to gather all of the best Afro Peruvian musicians in Lima, Perú, thanks to the great work of Eric.

LimaLimónRecords.Com September 14, 2008 at 1:18 pm

Thank you for the support!!!

chip September 14, 2008 at 11:16 pm

Anytime – I’m always happy to support fantastic inspiring work like this. You guys at Pasache Music/Lima Limón Records are putting out some of the best Afro-Peruvian Jazz that I’ve heard. It’s great to see a label dedicated to a style like this and maintaining such a sense of integrity. I look forward to future releases!

Lima Limon Records December 10, 2008 at 1:54 pm

Hopefully Latin Jazz people will recognize the rise of the Afro Peruvian Jazz to the surface and in time we are all going to be proud to heve supported it. Thank you for the votes and for making a difference when change is the word of these times.

Pasache Music January 15, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Chip, thank you for all the interest and support to our Afro Peruvian movement. Right now we are looking forward to Festival del Cajón (Lima, abril 11-15), and the Homenaje a Félix Pasache en Callejón del Buque by Edward Pérez, Eric Kurimski, and Rafael Santa Cruz (Lima, abril 19).
And what is amazing is that we are going to have the New York-Afro Peruvian Festival-PortChester 2009, which is first Afro Peruvian Jazz Festival in New York (July 25-28).

Pasache Music January 15, 2009 at 4:05 pm

The New York Afro Peruvian Festival, Port Chester 2009.
Photo Exhibit by David Camacho (Perú) & Maciej Dekert (Spain)
Cajón Master Class and Book Signing by Rafael Santa Cruz (Perú)
Afro Peruvian Music Workshop and CD Signing by Edward Pérez(U.S.) and Eric Kurimski (U.S.).

Afro Peruvian Jazz:
Eric Kurimski (July 25), Edward Pérez (July 26), Sofía Rei Koutsovitis (July 27), Rafael Santa Cruz (July 28).

And much more coming…

Get ready for something really big!!!

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