Entirely itself

There are few bands that operate entirely sin genre. Duende Libre is one of them. Nominally jazz, I guess, as the trio plays largely jazz clubs and has received most of its press from jazz types. But keyboardist Alex Chadsey, percussionist Jeff "Bongo" Busch and (electric) bassist Farko Dosumov keep that jazz label affixed quite loosely on their lapels.

Duende Libre
Duende Libre

The electronic nature of the songs (Chadsey does play some piano, but most often he can be found on some sort of electronic keyboard) does bring to mind Future Shock, of course, but there are also moments that evoke Miles Davis's early fusion work as well. But those are passing references. Many of these pieces pass through the ambient and into more tangible electronic forms. The rhythmic references shift quickly and breathlessly from continent to continent. And the songs can telescope from introverted to global and back again in a flash.

Which is to say that these boys could play almost any show or festival. Could they open up for the Flaming Lips? Yes. Paul Simon? In a heartbeat? David Byrne? Absolutely. A double bill with Bela Fleck? Duh.

But blending genres and sounds is one thing. Bringing those ideas together and tying them up in a gorgeous package is another. Duende Libre always has its ear toward the music. Does it work? I hear moments where the boys might well have wanted to throw more in the pot, but they restrained themselves. The broth was perfect just as it was.

That sort of ear for composition and arrangement is just one reason this album exudes sheer joy. If somehow you are not smitten after a minute, then you are excused. Duende Libre is an immediate ear-catcher. And once hooked, the depth of this music will drag you under. Willingly.

Jon Worley

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