More than a few things flew under my radar during the all-encompassing Jazz Fest season. One of the most impressive recordings to cross my path recently is the eponymous debut album from Duende Libre.
The band is a jazz trio led by keyboardist Alex Chadsey and features bassist Farko Dosumov and drummer Jeff “Bongo” Busch. While the format is familiar, the music mines Latin folk traditions and explores the rhythms associated with regions outside of the American jazz canon including Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, and Africa.
The compositions range from a song derived from a rhythm the band picked up from a mid 20th-century Cuban record by blind pianist Frank Emilio Flynn to the music of the great Malian griot Salif Keita. Through it all, the entire band grooves.
Bassist Farko Dosumov stands out with driving work that locks in with the leader’s left hand on the keyboard. He also adds some rather impressive vocalizing. Drummer Jeff “Bongo” Busch utilizes the entire kit and adds numerous accents from other percussion instruments. Though only a trio, they sound like a much bigger band.
Chadsey’s keyboard work reflects his training in jazz and classical music through a conservatory style education. But it also reveals a deeper, more intuitive understanding of Latin music and the influence of the African diaspora on jazz.
This is music for people who love both jazz and Latin music. It’s been in steady rotation since I first got the album.