“Transcultural jazz” as the Microscopi label’s one-sheet says, is a pretty good description of Principis, the sophomore date from Barcelona-based fiddler Coloma Bertran. On this album the eclectic composer and musician touches a lot of bases on this trip around the world of jazz violin.
Bertran studied classical and contemporary violin at university in Barcelona, then went to France to study jazz violin at the Center des Musiques Didier Lockwood. She’s surrounded herself with a solid quartet – Quim Abramo i Soldevila, on electric guitar, Franco Molinari on double bass and drummer Joan Carles Aguerri – and together they lay down a highly enjoyable set.
The disc opens with the title track that after a dramatic fiddle-and-tympani intro kicks into a blazing Celtic reel, which is interrupted for a brief interlude of sunny West Coast jazz meandering. That’s not the only Celtic style tune here. The penultimate track “Poeta De L’asfalt” has a similar kind of blend of styles. This one mixes up an Ashley MacIsaac style Celtic rocker complete with huge drum sound, with some more of that West Coast style light jazz.
Bertran composed eight of the 10 songs here. The covers are a sly, deliberately paced version of “My Favorite Things” that’s definitely more Rodgers & Hammerstein than Coltrane, but a lovely duet with bassist Molinari; and guitarist Abramo’s rockabilly romp “Fiona’s In Da House.” Abramo turns in a tasteful solo that satisfactorily blends jazz and country, and Coloma has what may be her best improv section here.
I’m particularly fond of the lightly swinging “Waltz For Amanda” with its old-school jazz guitar chording and brushed snare, and also of the upbeat ballad “A Pure Claim Of Love,” which opens with a really nice bass solo.
Rounding out the set, Bertran channels her inner Stefan Grappelli on the fast-swinging “Eggman’s Blues” (which features nice solos from everyone, especially guitarist Abramo), the Italian jazzy dance “Benandanti,” and the lazy summertime love song “Martina” on which Abramo channels his inner Pat Martino.
Coloma Bertran’s got loads of talent and plenty of musical ideas, and a lot of generous assistance from these top notch players in realizing her vision. This music would definitely go down well in a festival setting.
(Segell Microscopi, 2022)