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Edmar Castaneda: "Entre Cuerdas"

img  Tobias

The idea of a jazz troupe led by a classical harpist – as in angels, not John Popper – is a novel one, leaving wonks fumbling for the correct wine-snob way of saying that it’s pretty wild, cool and different. Castaneda’s ability is certainly tongue-tying enough that an audio sample paints a million hunts through Rogets – he mimics Al Di Meola’s guitar in hideously complicated fusion parts, puts his instrument through expert clavichord paces, etc. – but he does have his gregarious, or Business 101, side, offering easy toeholds for freshly hatched jazz journalists.

Pairing his unpredictable, stunning uniqueness with Marshall Gilkes’s staid, 70s-sounding trombone wouldn’t have been my first idea, but of course I’m the boring white dude who wouldn’t survive ten minutes in the barrio: in “Sabro Son,” the record’s first foot forward, Castaneda gleefully has it all: his ethnicity, his fusion and his Handel. That’s not the NPR-bait, of course, “Jesus de Nazareth” and its jaw-dropping one-man-show is. But such is life at the top of the session-guy short list – back and forth like this it goes, the solo pieces almost nullifying the group efforts, a mellow-down battle with vibes guest Joe Locke sounding almost chintzy in the album’s general context.

By Eric Saeger

Homepage: Edmar Castaneda

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