Santi Debriano

Circle Chant

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Panamanian bassist Santi Debriano utilizes many influences, including his Afro-Latin heritage. There are hard samba and Latin jazz threads easily recognized, but the otherworldly violin work of Israeli born Miri Ben-Ari sets this project apart from other salsa, world music, or jazz recordings that incorporate rhythms and melodies from distant places. The uplifting opener "Mano a Mano" in a trio setting with Brazilian pianist Helio Alves is followed by the ultimately tuneful Duke Pearson evergreen "Is That So?" with vocalist Valtinho Anastacio. The romantic violin of Ben-Ari folds with Debriano's arco bass on "Prelude to the Cyclical Night," while Chick Corea's melodicism is suggested during "Cosa Otra," kicked along by the astounding drummer Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez (he shows up on six tracks). The highlight is a unique version of the Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn soul melter "Isfahan," the violinist tugging at the heartstrings through her instrument. Debriano also offers two bass solos, the band deals a hint of pure descarga on "Cubanola," and Anastacio croons Portuguese beautifully in unison with Ben-Ari in on the title track. They also do a throwaway version of Prince's "Kiss." Debriano, one of the most in-demand sidemen in New York jazz circles, utilizes a bold, round, full (not fat) tone that perfectly expresses his love for life. Most of that joy is expressed on this thoughtful, provocative, diverse CD that will whet your whistle for more, especially from Ben-Ari, a rising star who should be heard on a project of her own

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