Cantos Del Sexto Sol
Round Whirled Records
As we settle into the twenty-first century, it’s important to realize that we live in a new musical world where stylistic boundaries are clearly blurred. We have more access to musical traditions from around the world than ever before; we can hear and see the musical lineages of numerous cultures performed right on our computer screens. From a listener perspective, the sights and sounds of different musical worlds sit next to each other on an equal level. It’s all sound to the everyday listener, and they’ll connect with great music regardless of its origin. This almost limitless access opens musicians to a vast pool of artistic choices that they can integrate into their work on a variety of levels. While they may choose to invest more fully in a tradition and connect the music to its cultural background, its possible for musicians to mix and match ideas from around the world. They might blend preexisting audio into new sonic collages or they might simply throw musicians from different backgrounds together, but the free combination of ideas is certainly a modern reality. Saxophonist Enrique Fernandez takes this contemporary idea to heart on Cantos Del Sexto Sol, where he brings together a number of musicians and sounds from around the world to produce an expansive twist on Latin Jazz.
Constructing A Fascinating Sonic Mix
With the help of producer Greg Landau, Fernandez constructs several pieces based on an earlier recording headed by pianist Omar Sosa. An extended timbale fill leads into a rumba inspired groove filled with wah wah drenched guitar on “Dimelo!,” where Fernandez delivers a spacious melody with layers of saxophone lines. Fernandez digs into the driving feel with a solo that employs both space and bursts of rhythmic intensity, taken to another level through interactive timbale work. An airy collection of percussion and vocal samples serves as a foundation for a harmonized mambo line from Fernandez with overdubbed solo ideas flying over the mix. A vocoded voice floats over a slow and steady percussion groove on “Bolero En El Olvido” leading into an introspective melody on a combination of flute and sax. Fernandez’s bold tenor tone lifts his solo above the shimmering quality of the rhythm section with a quiet intensity. Sosa captures the thoughtfully methodical mood of the piece with a spacious improvisation that delicately explores ideas of texture and shape. A collective improvisation between flute, piano, kalimba, and percussion slowly unfolds behind atmospheric vocals sounds on “Altiplano” until a strong percussion pattern pushes a sax melody into the forefront. Fernandez rides the intensity of the percussion part into a commanding statement that ferocious attacks a healthy series of ideas. A short collection of phrases from Sosa leads into a etherial flute solo which weaves around a collection of electronic sounds and airy vocal samples. Bombastic percussion hits open into a steady cajon rhythm on “Lamento Andino” which sets the stage for a slithering sax melody over a sly groove. Fernandez uses the hypnotic nature of the background as a launching point for a passion drenched sax solo that screams into a scorching combination of runs and high register intensity. As Fernandez switches to flute, an open exploratory vibe overtakes the music, combining percussion, vocal chants, noodling vibraphone, and more. Fernandez and Landau put together a fascinating musical journey over Sosa’s work explores influences form around the world.
Experimenting In A Latin Jazz Setting
Fernandez moves into a more focused Latin Jazz direction on other tracks while keeping an experimental edge. The rhythm section tears into a sparsely funky cha cha cha groove on “Boogaloo Nouveau” while a layer of saxophones play rhythmic lines beneath an energetic flute melody. Fernandez’s flute flies out of the melody into a wandering improvisation that draws strongly upon jazz and Cuban music conventions. Things rise to another level as Fernandez switches to bass clarinet for a driving mambo line before the saxes push their powerful sound to the end of the piece. A running sax line hits accent points from the rhythm section on the strong introduction to “Nati’s Repose” until the a soulful melody works its way through a funky groove. Fernandez skillfully wraps bluesy lines into his improvisation, bouncing around the rhythm section’s lively foundation. Some great background writing for woodwinds helps lift Fernandez’s solo to an exciting climax before smoothly falling back into the melody. Crowd noises fade into a catchy sax ostinato over a second line drum beat on “Qrsna,” before Fernandez enters with a folk flavored melody. The saxophonist displays some strong creative energy, twisting and turning the main melody in numerous different directions that hold onto the core flavor while adding new ideas. As the sax vamp disappears, Fernandez’s solo takes a decidedly Middle Eastern direction with distinctive articulations and scale choices that end the piece with an ear catching flair. A six beat percussion groove segues into an understated flute vamp on “Ciclos,” setting the stage for a cyclical melody filled with thick layers of flutes and sax. As waves of sound fly through the background, Fernandez leaps into a smart solo distinguished by quick streams of notes, expressive phrasing, and reflective pauses. The flutes return with pieces of the original melody behind Fernandez, inspiring the saxophonist to stretch his improvisation into an intensive fury before returning to the main theme. There’s some familiar Latin Jazz approaches on these tracks, but Fernandez’s experimental spirit really brings these songs alive.
A Memorable Sonic Journey
Fernandez blends a world of influences into an intriguing musical statement on Cantos Del Sexto Sol, putting a unique spin on traditional Latin Jazz ideals. His collaboration with Greg Landau results in an intoxicating sonic adventure that blends Sosa’s unique musicianship with inspired creativity. Fernandez’s compositional ideas complement the work of Sosa’s group and interact insightfully with the embedded cultural references. Fernandez freely integrates a variety of sounds from different cultures, ranging from Cuban rhythms to Middle Eastern scales, Peruvian percussion, and more. There’s never a sense that he takes these cultural traditions lightly though; they are respectfully winded into the overall mixture. Studio manipulation and overdubbing plays a big part in Fernandez’s concept, an act that Fernandez uses to his advantage. The thick layers of woodwind instruments combined with clever harmonizations make for a distinctive sound and defined arrangement ideas. As a player, Fernandez exerts a strong improvisational voice that calls upon the influence of musicians such as Pharaoh Sanders and Gato Barbieri. His ability to be quiet and reflective at one moment and then be screaming in passionate intensity shows a wide dynamic range and broad musical concept. With all these pieces in place, Fernandez creates a memorable sonic journey on Cantos Del Sexto Sol that delivers a blend of world influences that is simultaneously exciting, surprising, and overflowing with a twenty-first century mentality.
2. Boogaloo Nouveau
3. Nati’s Repose
5. Bolero En El Olvido
7. Lamento Andino
Enrique Fernandez – alto, tenor, & baritone saxes, flute, and bass clarinet; Omar Sosa – keyboards and vocoder; Greg Landau – drum and percussion programming; Geoff Brennan – upright bass; Josh Jones – drums; Pauchi Sasaki – chants and Japanese vocals; Tito de la Rosa – Peruvian chants and percussion; David Flores – drums (3)
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