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The Puppeteers: The Puppeteers


The Puppeteers

The Puppeteers - The PuppeteersPuppetry takes great sleight of hand. Not only must all the strings function in a modicum of coordination, but puppets must coordinate with one another. In the case of The Puppeteers all puppets are in excellent hands. Although relatively young, pianist Arturo O’Farrill is something of a veteran as are the Panama-born, New York raised (in many more ways than one) bassist, Alex Blake, who conjures up Milt Hinton in some of his almighty solos; Bill Ware is equally magical, with his harmonic, four-mallet technique on the vibraphone and Jaime Affoumado a painter on percussion, who uses brushes and sticks as a painter would his myriad brushes. Each is a puppeteer in his own right and this unfolds at various points in the music. If the piano heats things up as it does in the more racy charts the vibes calms things down; and if the drums rattles and hums as a blue flame blazes the flibbity gibbet of the bass holds the music in check. Often the opposite is true of the instruments. This is only part of the reason why this music is so endearing. There is more…

Bill Ware is a musician’s musician. This is a loaded phrase and is meant to convey the fact that Mr. Ware is an amazing colourist, capable of shading the music with bold brush-strokes as well as extraordinarily subtle ones. His solos are Cubist; like Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase the movement is vivid even when the colours are earthy and extremely muted. The resonance of his instrument enables Mr. Ware to thrust his music ever upward as if leaping and bounding from plane to plane with geometric precision. His extended solo on “Bio Diesel” is a fine example of the angularity of his attack and of his exceptional use of dynamics as well. Mr. Ware and other puppeteers leave the curvilinear melodies to pianist Arturo O’Farrill, who plays in rapid arcs of lines that carve the air around the musicians. Mr. O’Farrill’s long loping lines are also peppered with rapidly ascending glissandi and arpeggios that triangulate as on “Dreams of Dad” with the breathy soli of Bill Ware and with the harmonies of bassist, Alex Blake.

Mr. Blake is impish despite the erudition of his playing. His gravitas is derived from the depth of his gut and from the bottom of his soul. His harmonics growl and yowl depending upon which part of the register of his seemingly endless array of basses he employs on this recording. Mr. Blake’s harmonies are derived from rumbling notes that intersect the melodies like arrows and darts fired from the instrument that is superbly played by a master. Mr. Blake’s soli are also often accompanied by raw double stops singing the notes he is playing and he does so rather excitedly. This mode of playing was often employed by Milt Hinton and also at times by Louis Armstrong’s most celebrated bassist in his later period, the great Arvell Shaw. Alex Blake’s finest moments on the recording come on “On the Spot,” “Jumping” and on the ethereal beauty of “Peaceful Moment.” But Mr. Blake is only half of the rhythmists that also includes Jaime Affoumado, a drummer with a great deal of sensitivity as well as musical intellect. The Puppeteers would, in fact, be incomplete without Mr. Affoumado’s melodious and rhythmic colourations. To that extent the drummer is a magnificent addition to the band whose ingenuity, it is hoped, will last through a much more extensive repertoire.

Track List: On the Spot; Jumping; In Whom; Peaceful Moment; Bio Diesel; Dreams of Dad; Not Now Right Now; Lonely Days Are Gone; The Right Time.

Personnel: Arturo O’Farrill: piano; Bill Ware: vibraphone; Alex Blake: bass; Jaime Affoumado: drums.

Label: Puppet’s Records | Release date: March 2014

Website: puppetsrecords.com | Buy music on: amazon

About The Puppeteers

Arturo O’Farrill, pianist, composer, educator, and winner of the Latin Jazz USA Outstanding Achievement Award for 2003, was born in Mexico and grew up in New York City. In 2002, Mr. O’Farrill created the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra (ALJO) for Jazz at Lincoln Center due in part to a large and very demanding body of substantial music in the genre of Latin and Afro Cuban Jazz that deserves to be much more widely appreciated and experienced by the general jazz audience. His debut album with the Orchestra, Una Noche Inolvidable, earned a GRAMMY Award nomination in 2006 and the Orchestra’s second album, Song for Chico, earned a GRAMMY Award for Best Latin Jazz Album in 2009. In February 2011, Mr. O’Farrill and the ALJO released their third and newest album, 40 Acres and a Burro, which has been nominated for a GRAMMY award in the Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album category for 2011, and his debut solo album, The Noguchi Sessions, was released in July, 2012 to critical acclaim. Mr. O’Farrill’s website is: arturoofarrill.com


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