The Havana Moon title and the presence of Cuban reedman Paquito D'Rivera at the beginning of the program might give the impression that this is a collection of Cuban crossover music; in fact, the program is pan-Latin; composer Miguel del Águila is Uruguayan, Heitor Villa-Lobos is Brazilian, and JP Jofre is an Argentinian bandoneón player and composer. The music is for a small chamber ensemble headed by German pianist Evelyn Ulex; hence the connection to the piano-oriented Steinway label (and the Transatlantic moniker, for clarinetist Mariam Adam is American). That label typically likes to let the music speak for itself, which is fine. But here one wishes for a bit of context. How did D'Rivera come to write a piece called Cape Cod Files? Why did the performers decide to break it up to frame the program? And how did it happen to include a piece evoking Cuban songwriter Ernesto Lecuona ("Lecuonerias")? The program, even if it doesn't totally cohere as a unit, offers many nice small works impelled by a variety of Latin rhythms. D'Rivera is the star of the show; try the sweeping rhythm of the "Vals Venezolano" as a sample. The two Villa-Lobos miniatures are both delicious, and rarely heard. Noteworthy as well is the sound, recorded at the ambitiously named Traumton Studios in Berlin. An interesting elaboration on the crossover tendencies that have always been present in Latin American music.
Havana Moon Review
by James Manheim