Downtown jazz pianist Anthony Coleman's Morenica release picks up where his earlier Sephardic Tinge release left off, as he continues to explore the space between traditional Jewish and Spanish music. Known for his work with Marc Ribot's Cubanos project and John Zorn's Masada, this delightful and thoughtful album takes both traditions and reinterprets them through a jazz lens. The playful explorations of early 20th century Jelly Roll Morton-esque swing music is tempered by the slow, thoughtful, almost mournful tones of North Africa, often on the same track as in the Coleman original "He Would Turn in His Grave" and "Yaelica." With its mixture of so many different musical traditions, the album comes off as a uniquely American, or, perhaps, even a uniquely Brooklyn undertaking, with different ethnomusicalisities brushing shoulders with each other (Coleman admits that the original inspiration for the music came from growing up in Brooklyn near a Hispanic marketplace at the height of the salsa craze). Bassist Ben Street and drummer Michael Sarin provide a more than adequate space for Coleman to play around on, but stalwart bassist Greg Cohen and drummer Joey Baron from the original Sephardic Tinge are surely missed. Needless to say, from the fast-paced and playful "Berchit" to the bluesy, somber, and beautiful title track, this album further establishes Coleman as one of Downtown's most accomplished pianists and intelligent composers.
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AllMusic Review by David Freedlander