“Essência is a joyful romp through the musical landscape of the Americas guided by master pianist Otmaro Ruiz and exciting new guitar virtuoso, Bruno Mangueira. Their musical partnership is informed by their Venezuelan and Brazilian heritages fused with their deep love and understanding of American jazz and the European classical tradition.
Otmaro and Bruno flawlessly navigate this landscape with a program of eight original compositions and two standards. Each song feels like a suite, taking us through a wide range of dynamics and emotional territory. Impressively, their original compositions sound like they could be standards. They evoke the timeless feeling of classic songs by Tom Jobim, Hermeto Pascoal, and other Brazilian masters while maintaining the vibrancy of the present. There are hints of Bach, Chopin, and lush harmonic passages that will send music theory students racing for their notepads.
I love the program’s intelligent balance of composition and improvisation. In the Brazilian tradition, one might expect the balance to be weighted toward composition and jazz, toward improvisation. Essência has managed to marry the two in a cohesive and natural way. The song construction is airtight while the performances and improvisations take us for a wild and exciting ride. Neither Otmaro nor Bruno shy away from taking chances. The gorgeous yet sometimes unexpected harmonies are constantly shifting and it takes a skilled improviser to make their way through this treacherous terrain and arrive safely on the other side. Otmaro and Bruno are our able guides.
Duo playing demands an extraordinary level of musicianship. Every note, every gesture is exposed. The musicians must breathe together and have an almost telepathic connection. Each player must fully grasp the entirety of each piece, as their constantly shifting roles require them to alternately supply melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic support for one another. It’s a daring high wire partnership calling for empathy and a deep commitment to the music and to one another. Otmaro and Bruno embody these qualities throughout. Essência celebrates the joy of two master musicians as they explore the essence of their beloved musical traditions in this intimate setting and guide us to new landscapes and possibilities.”
- Russell Ferrante (YellowJackets), August 2019
20TH LATIN GRAMMY AWARDS - DOUBLE NOMINATION!
We are excited to announce that Otmaro Ruiz | Jimmy Branly | Jimmy Haslip's album titled Elemental has been nominated for two LATIN GRAMMY AWARDS:
BEST JAZZ ALBUM & BEST ARRANGEMENT
(Otmaro Ruiz for "Red Wall")
"I especially loved "Red Wall" with its dark undertones and Yoruban feel"
(Smooth Jazz Magazine - Avzal Ismail)
Click here to listen
“Elemental is a current jazz classic bringing elements of old and new to keep fans on their toes. (...) Elemental is a fusion of the most talented jazz artists of our time. More than that, though, the resulting sound is clearly greater than the sum of it's parts." (Travis Prescott, All About Jazz)
"These guys slap some soul on the sauce." (George W. Harris, Jazz Weekly)
"Superb in every respect, this is a MUST HAVE in your collection" (Avzal Ismail, Smooth Jazz Magazine)
Elemental by Otmaro Ruiz, Jimmy Branly, and Jimmy Haslip is for die hard fans of fusion jazz, an elite circle of jazz connoisseurship. (Hans-Bernd Hülsmann, First View)
Blue Canoe artist, Hiroe Sekine, is back in the spotlight with her fourth release, "Hiroe's Spirit". With this bold effort, Ms. Sekine brings fresh, unique arrangements to jazz and classical songs in a very original way.
A native of Japan, pianist Hiroe Sekine has been living in the Los Angeles area since 1993, performing at many venues, festivals, and others, including the Jazz Concert Series at Los Angeles County Museum of Arts (LACMA) in 2014 and 2016. Ms. Hiroe studied jazz at University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. In 2010, Ms. Sekine's debut album, "a-mé", was named by "All About Jazz" as one of the 25 best albums of the year. Ms. Sekine's long-time musical relationship with Russell Ferrante of the YellowJackets continues on "Hiroe's Spirit" and the result is a classical crossover stunner. Over the years, she has worked with musical greats such as Bob Sheppard (Chick Corea, Steely Dan, Michael Brecker, Joni Mitchell), Tony Dumas (The Manhattan Transfer, Chick Corea, Etta James, Mariah Carey), Peter Erskine (Weather Report, Pat Metheny, John Scofield,) and Abraham Laboriel (Al Jarreau, George Benson, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles) to name a few.
"Hiroe's Spirit" opens with a dramatic rendition of “Pavane pour une infante défunte” by French composer Maurice Ravel. It begins with Ms. Sekine hinting at the melody with her strong piano phrasing against a simple drum beat. Bob Sheppard floats to the front with his sax and takes over melodic duties before the listener is drawn in by spirited accompaniment with Michael Valerio (bass), James Tate (drums) and Akira Jimbo (shaker). Together they reach the summit with dramatically soaring sax ringing triumphantly in the end.
Another very original take on Spirit is Ms. Hiroe's version of Ave Maria. She chooses a very upbeat approach with riveting drum and bass intro. The great Abraham Laboriel contributes both electric bass and vocals in this unique approach to the standard. The changes in rhythmic patterns throughout the interpretation keep the listener engaged as Ms. Hiroe falls in with a breathtaking piano solo that will leave an audience wanting for more. At the end, all come together in a force of rocket-paced bass groove along with subdued vocals that magically just works. Creatively divine, indeed!
"Hiroe's Spirit" is an intelligent, stand-out creation that will not be matched this year. Take a ride with Hiroe Sekine's "Hiroe's Spirit" today....this one is not to be missed.