AMN Reviews: Brandon Lopez – Santeria (2020; Catalytic Sound)

Bassist Brandon Lopez has collaborated with a number of luminaries in the New York avant-jazz scene, including John Zorn, Okkyung Lee, Ingrid Laubrock, Tyshawn Sorey, and Susan Alcorn among many others. Santeria is a solo release on which Lopez gives his instrument a workout both with and without a bow.

Lopez kicks off with the energetic Bomba, featuring rapid bowed runs of varying intensities. He takes this in a discordant and squeaky direction on 400 + 1, playing with extended techniques to temper his melodies with rough textures. In contrast, Epi offers a deliberately-plucked and angular theme that explores a set of patterns at different tempos and volumes. Brujo follows this, and is a high point for this listener, as Lopez provides an aggressive and nuanced improvisation that combines rhythmic sections and soloing.

While there is no shortage of solo albums available these days, Santeria is one worthy of attention even in a crowded field. It is powerful, while embracing both familiarity and exploration. Nicely done.

Note: The link above is to a shortened version of the album. We reviewed the full version, which should be available soon from Catalytic Sound, for members who subscribe to their Patreon.

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