Thursday, January 3, 2019

Album Review: Juan Ibarra - NauMay

Juan Ibarra 
**** out of *****

Released in early 2018, Juan Ibarra's collection of soaring Jazz originals may have offered more promise and positive spiritually than the year could deliver, but the dulcet tones continue to enchant, and will do so for any listener who picks up NauMay in the future. It is a stunning post-bop based jazz debut from an artist who has studied around the world and returned home to produce his first record at Mastodonte Studios. 

Ibarra is a drummer originally from Uruguay who leads his base quintet (Gonzalo Levin - Tenor/Spr/Alto Sax, Ignacio Labrada - Piano, Martin Ibarra - Guitar, Antonino Restuccia - Double Bass) in unique fashion. Just listening to the intro for "Angkor" (our favorite) and you can hear how his dense percussion patterns juxtaposes with the melodic piano and saxophones. The track (like all of them on NauMay) runs long and moves through various stages but remains hypnotic all along the journey.  It is just one of the many impressive offerings on this record which fans of exploratory music (not just jazz heads) will dig.

Opener "REM" is more a dreamy slow build helped along by guests Benjamin Barrios tenor sax and Federico Lazzarini trumpet while "Indigo" has more of a free jazz vibe with a pleasant focus on the bass work of Restuccia. Barrios and Lazzarini return again for the triumphant "Pepper Blade" as the marching drums and bright horns lead the way forward.

"Oceanos" is the smoothest offering on the record and oddly the least engaging as the other tunes deliver more of a musical journey, but the chilled out vibes are certainly solid, just a bit one note/familiar. More exploratory and adventurous is "Nair (Candombe 5)" which flies by as the band climbs up and down scales around Ibarra's frantically direct drumming. Closer "Pataskala" highlights Martin Ibarra's electric guitar work with clean flourishes and bright passages before the relaxed sax and steady piano make their mark as well.   

There is a lot of music to digest on NauMay with a running time pushing seventy five minutes, however each long offering is rewarding. Ibarra has been compared to Brian Blades Fellowship with good reason, he and his players have created an exhilarating debut record that will reward listeners again and again. 
Support the artist, buy the album, stream it on bandcamp or below and peeps some video:

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