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 V.17 No.13 | March 27 - April 2, 2008 

Sonic Reducer

Gonzalo Rubalcaba Avatar (Blue Note Records)

From the CD’s opening seconds, the ethereal touch, musicality and instinctual rhythmic excitement of Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba captivate the ears, heart and brain. Sidemen Yosvany Terry (saxes), Mike Rodriguez (trumpet, flügelhorn) and Albuquerque’s Matt Brewer (bass), who sometimes seems to share a brain with Marcus Gilmore (drums), collaborate with stunning precision. Original compositions from Rubalcaba, Terry and Brewer, whose indirect, disturbingly beautiful “Aspiring to Normalcy,” is a high point, join Horace Silver’s “Peace” (trio) and Alejandro Garcia Caturla’s “Preludio Corto No. 2 for Piano,” arranged for quintet by Rubalcaba. Avatar delivers lyrical contemporary jazz played at a very high level. (MM)

Jim Noir Jim Noir (Barsuk)

Happy, cheeky and so very harmonious, the sophomore release from psychedelic-electro artist Jim Noir will spring you from your bed with a huge grin on your face and add a sultry swagger to your stride. It’s a jovial, robust set of songs with a series of nostalgic anecdotes providing the lyrical themes. There are more electronic add-ons and layered vocals than on Noir’s debut release, Tower Of Love, and more continuity since this one isn’t a collection of EP material like his last. An instantly lovable LP that will quickly earn its way into any neo-psychedelic fan’s rotation. (SM)

DeVotchKa A Mad and Faithful Telling (Anti)

The music writer behind us at a recent DeVotchKa performance says "If I see one more tuba-theremin combo ... " Dude's been in the criticism biz too long. (Also, it was a sousaphone, not a tuba.) As soon as Nick Urata's romance-drenched vocals begin throwing themselves around the room, there is no room for cynicism. From the gorgeous arrangement on "Transliterator" to the bouncy waltz of "Blessing in Disguise," this Denver-based ensemble once again pulled out all the stops. I prefer darker shades of DeVotchKa, and this disc maintains a 5 o'clock shadow about half the time. But only the hopeless will find themselves despairing over such heartfelt opulence. (MD)

(MM) Mel Minter, (SM) Simon McCormack, (MD) Marisa Demarco

 
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