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Diego Urcola Quartet – El Duelo (2020) [Official Digital Download 24bit/88,2kHz]

Diego Urcola Quartet – El Duelo (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 01:16:33 minutes | 1,38 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © Sunnyside

Trumpeter Diego Urcola has proven to be a player of incredible range and dexterity throughout his career, a large part of it playing alongside Paquito D’Rivera in the legendary saxophonist/clarinetist’s various eclectic projects. On Urcola’s new recording, El Duelo, the trumpeter recruits D’Rivera to join him in a very rare, and exposed, playing scenario, the piano-less quartet. // Originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Urcola has been a part of the New York City jazz scene since the 1990s. His work with D’Rivera, Guillermo Klein y Los Guachos, Enrico Pieranunzi, and as a leader has been celebrated by many, even garnering him a Grammy nomination for his album, Soundances. // It was during a regular visit to Uruguay’s Punta Del Este Jazz Festival that Urcola was asked to present a musical tribute to the revered Gerry Mulligan Quartet that featured Chet Baker. During the quartet’s performance, Urcola invited D’Rivera to the stage, and the idea of recording in a piano-less quartet was cemented by the resounding performance.

A collaboration between trumpeter Diego Urcola and the acclaimed clarinetist/saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera, 2020’s El Duelo finds the longtime bandmates combining their cross-pollinated musical backgrounds in a pianoless quartet. Technically, the album showcases Urcola’s group with bassist Hamish Smith and drummer Eric Doob, but the trumpeter has been a member of the Cuban-born D’Rivera’s ensemble since the early ’90s, and El Duelo feels like a celebration of that creative partnership. Born in Argentina, Urcola came to wider recognition in his twenties while studying at Berklee School of Music in Boston and Queens College in New York. He picked up Grammy nominations for two of his early solo albums (2003’s Soundscapes and 2006’s Viva), both of which displayed his knack for mixing progressive modern jazz with Latin and Argentine traditions. El Duelo continues in this vein as Urcola and D’Rivera bring all of their varied influences together, dipping into introspective modal jazz, dusky tango grooves, and propulsive Latin rhythms. Interestingly, while the choice to work without a chordal instrument like a piano or guitar here evokes a spare, classical chamber group aesthetic, it also opens up the sound of the quartet, allowing more harmonic freedom for the soloists. It’s a sound that has taken precedence across the jazz spectrum, and Urcola’s group touch upon much it, drawing inspiration from the straight-ahead style of the classic Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan group of the ’50s on the breezy “I Know, Don’t Know How,” and leaping toward the spritely, free jazz harmolodics of the Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry groups of the ’60s on “Una Muy Bonita.” Primarily, the album falls right in between these paradigms as Urcola and D’Rivera push the boundaries of their global sound as on the declamatory Afro-Latin groover “The Natural” and the middle eastern-influenced “Pekin.” Elsewhere, Urcola’s harmon-muted sensuality is nicely contrasted by D’Rivera’s bright alto sax asides on moody, flamenco-tinged “Libertango.” We also get several inventively arranged standards, including a tango-inspired reworking of Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” (titled “La Yumba/Caravan”), a supple, flugelhorn-accented reading of Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma,” and a wry, ballroom dance-friendly take on Benny Golson’s “Stablemates.” Throughout El Duelo, Urcola and D’Rivera display their improvisational bravura, taking extended solos and sparring with a warm intensity. – Matt Collar


1. Diego Urcola Quartet – El Duelo
2. Diego Urcola Quartet – Tango Azul
3. Diego Urcola Quartet – Una Muy Bonita
4. Diego Urcola Quartet – La Yumba / Caravan
5. Diego Urcola Quartet – Pekin
6. Diego Urcola Quartet – The Natural
7. Diego Urcola Quartet – Buenos Aires
8. Diego Urcola Quartet – Foxy Trot
9. Diego Urcola Quartet – I Know, Don’t Know How
10. Diego Urcola Quartet – Libertango
11. Diego Urcola Quartet – Sacajawea (Theme)
12. Diego Urcola Quartet – Leyenda
13. Diego Urcola Quartet – Con Alma
14. Diego Urcola Quartet – Stablemates
15. Diego Urcola Quartet – Bye-Ya


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