Julian Gerstin Explores “The Old City”

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THE OLD CITY / GERSTIN: The Old City. Jugo de mambo. Human Element. Pwan lajan-lan. Que guapo es mi compay. Leander’s Waltz. The Deaf Singer. Cumbia sin cambio. Soukwé soukwé. Santa Barbara Blues / Julian Gerstin Sextet: Don Anderson, tpt; Anna Patton, cl; Eugene Uman, pno; Wes Brown, bs; Ben James, dm with: Jon Wheeler, tb; Jon Weeks, sax; Lissa Schneckenberger, vln; Keith Murphy, gtr; Matt Fass, acc; Todd Roach, Iranian perc / self-produced CD, available at http://www.juliangerstin.com

Percussionist Julian Gerstin presents here a program of fairly mainstream jazz filtered through Cuban, Balkan, Martinique and Colombian music without leaning too far in the direction of the inspiration. It is relatively low-key jazz, but not insipid music; rather, it is lyrical and inventive despite its laid-back sound, and despite the presence of a guest saxist and violinist its texture is somewhat defined by Anna Patton’s clarinet. She is a remarkable musician who fuses the pure tone of a classical reed player with elements of klezmer and other Middle Eastern sounds.

I also liked the way that Gerstin shifted gears within several of the pieces, such as the title track, which moves from a relaxed sort of glide into a Cuban jazz groove. Jugo de mambo brought back to me very happy memories of the late Perez Prado’s great mambo band of the 1950s and ‘60s. Indeed, this is the kind of album that really doesn’t need a music critic; it’s just mellow Latin-Balkan-inspired American jazz that eases your tensions as it permeates through your mind. Although none of the solos will blow you away, they are solid, interesting, and fit beautifully into the surrounding material. An “old city” feeling indeed.

This CD was released a little too late, but it’s perfect summertime jazz.

—© 2018 Lynn René Bayley

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Read my book, From Baroque to Bop and Beyond: An extended and detailed guide to the intersection of classical music and jazz

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