For those with an affinity for classical music fused with jazz and Latin traditions, The TransAtlantic Ensemble's debut for the Steinway & Sons recording label titled Havana Moon provides a sound you're sure to relate to. The duo – clarinetist Mariam Adam and pianist Evelyn Ulex – have separate roots in Paris, Berlin and New York City but together they beautifully and melodically bring an entirely global perspective to the compositions of Heitor Villa-Lobos, Miguel del Águila, J.P. Jofre and Grammy Award-winning woodwind master Paquito D'Rivera. Violinist Liana Gourdjia along with bandeónist Juan Pablo Jofre joins the pair on several songs that are illuminated by the duo's electrifying and mellow sounds.
This ensemble of clarinet and piano is dedicated to re-directing the course of classical music when performed as a chamber ensemble. Havana Moon is also an excellent document of the duo's ongoing relationship with living composers. Their new versions of D'Rivera's rhythmic themes and Del Águila's works enable similar chamber ensembles to continue to use their musical style as a forum for new music and to inspire what the future might hold for classical music enthusiasts who are open to new forms of the music's evolution.
As interpreters of such iconic composers, the duo never overplays the original music with unnecessary extended improvisations. The legend of Paquito D'Rivera is well-established and The TransAtlantic Ensemble performs several of his works with reverence and respect. They include his recent four-movement suite titled "The Cape Cod Files" as well as his well-known "Habanera" for your listening pleasure. Miriam Adam is an exclusive Selmer Artist, a founding member of the Grammy-nominated woodwind quintet, Imani Winds and has performed with both classical and jazz musicians such as Yo-Yo Ma, Wayne Shorter and Chick Corea.
In their passion to bring Latin repertoire to greater prominence, the duo also includes three world premieres by Miguel del Águila. The ensemble plays his songs – "Tango Trio," "Nocturne," and "Silence" – with no style guards, with emotional clarity and with finesse. By adding elements of jazz to these songs, the listener is further exposed to Del Águila's compositional integrity as they brilliantly develop his widespread and eclectic musical interests.
Heitor Villa-Lobos' Brazilian serenade titled "Skyline of New York" as well as his short waltz for piano "Valsa da Dor" are performed beautifully by Evelyn Ulex who reveals her sophistication as an interpreter of the Brazilian's piano music. She is a Steinway Artist and an active chamber musician who regularly performs Villa-Lobos' repertoire.
Overall, Havana Moon is an innovative listening experience that has been cultivated for enthusiasts of new classical music tinged with Latin and jazz traditions.
Copyright © 2016, Paula Edelstein