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CD Review: Volcano Radar - Paquito Libre

By Hrayr Attarian

Volcano Radar Paquito Libre

Paquito D’Rivera - Clarinet, alto sax

Elbio Barilari - Electric viola, electric guitar, flugelhorn, pocket trumpet, bass

clarinet, bandoneon, Fender Rhodes, electric bass, birimbao, electronics

Julia A. Miller - guitar synth, electric guitar, electric bass

Darwin Noguera - piano, Hammond B3 organ, keyboards

Rollo Radford - electric bass

Ernie Adams - drums, percussion

The tense and atmospheric Paquito Libre is the first collaboration between clarinetist and saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera and the electroacoustic ensemble Volcano Radar. The co-leaders of the latter, guitarist Julia A. Miller and multi-instrumentalist Elbio Barilari are also the new owners of Delmark Records and the album is their debut on the label. The free flowing and cinematic work encompasses elements of a variety of styles and is refreshingly inventive and spontaneous.

"East Pole West Pole”, for instance, opens with expectant, rock influenced vamps and ethereal sound effects. D’Rivera’s agile clarinet weaves eloquent and lyrical lines within the percussive rhythmic backdrop. The title track, on the other hand, is jazzier with an energetic head on either end. D’Rivera lets loose fiery saxophone staccato phrases over riotous refrains. Miller takes a contemplative solo that contrasts and complements D’Rivera’s.

The cinematic “Afterimages” is sparse and elegiac. Barilari blows, pensive, wailing notes on his trumpet while Miller and drummer Ernie Adams contribute angular, intriguing refrains. Meanwhile the nocturnesque “Just Before Midnight” features keyboardist Darwin Noguera’s resonant and cascading piano and Barilari’s mellow flugelhorn. Bassist Rollo Radford’s thumping chords and D’Rivera’s reverberating clarinet add a dark edge to the tune.

The band demonstrates delightful and captivating synergy among its members. For example, “The Quark and the Jaguar” is an introspective and meandering piece. Miller, D’Rivera and Barilari’s individual stream of consciousness “monologues” overlap with the right amount of haunting dissonance. Adams’ rustling percussion brings earthy undertones to the group performance.

Paquito Libreis simultaneously futuristic and rooted in the jazz movements of the 1960s and 1970s. The unique quartet and its likeminded guests defy narrow genrism for a unique disc that engrosses with its dense, intricate ambience and electrifies with its shimmering melodies. This is a recording that should have a wide appeal.

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