Release date: October 8, 2021
Label: Sony Music Latin
“The principal strength of Negroni’s Trio has always been its lockstep cohesion, even across moments of rhythmic complexity” - Brian Zimmerman / Downbeat
One of the most prolific bands in the modern jazz landscape, the 3x Latin GRAMMY®-nominated group Negroni’s Trio has made a point throughout the years to diligently document their music, resulting in a stream of over ten celebrated releases that showcase the broad scope of the group’s strengths and their commitment to creating a group aesthetic. Their 11th release Esperanzas is no exception to this tradition of excellence as it is a powerful document of an ensemble at the height of their prowess. On Esperanzas, which is a follow up to their lauded 2019 release Acústico, trio co-founders and father-song team José Negroni and Nomar Negroni reunite with stalwart bassist Josh Allen.
“Melodies unfold like charming tales, once the layers of harmony are added, we are faced with moving pictures which give this music a cinematic quality.” Raul Da Gama, Latin Jazz Network
According to drummer Nomar Negroni, “this music was recorded with a feeling of compassion for humanity which is why we titled it “Esperanzas” (Hopes in English).” As a larger goal, the group aims to empower people to be bold in their lives. “We want to remind them that authenticity in everything one does in life fills your soul with joy,” Nomar Negroni adds.
More than half of the album is made up of original compositions by pianist José Negroni who adopts a straight-forward approach to the craft of composing. “I don’t like to wait for the muse to arrive!” Negroni asserts, “I like to call myself a composition worker. When a new project comes along, I already know that I have to sit at the piano and get to work. It is always a memorable moment when I listen to my compositions played by the trio. It is an unbeatable feeling”.
The original tunes highlight the trio’s unique ability to showcase their considerable skill and wide-ranging musical prowess. On the bright opener “Qué Felicidad”, the trio immediately succeeds at establishing the tone for the proceedings. The track serves as a perfect showcase for the trio’s cohesion as a band with its members expertly negotiating the composition’s many shifts and turns.
The group was astute in choosing the album's featured guests. The title track starts with a short impressionistic rumination on the piano before the rhythm section comes in to play the beginning of the melody. A highlight is when this sonic texture is augmented by clarinetist Ismael Vergara, blending in perfectly with the piano, creating a gorgeous timbre.
The atmospheric “Osvaldo” finds the group exploring a mood, with Allen bowing figures on the intro. For this piece, the group focuses on rendering a strong performance of the written material. José Negroni explains “An important moment in this recording was when we decided to do “Osvaldo” with no solos. The composition was dedicated to my father, he was a very loving, cheerful and respectful man but very methodical and never improvised his decisions in life.”
The treatment of the standard “How High The Moon” is anything but traditional. The band launches into a cross between progressive rock with moog synths and odd meters just before settling into a bouncy Latin groove over which veteran tenorist Ed Calle shines playing through the form of the song.
A highlight of the session can be found on “Encadenados”, in which the buleria inspired vocals of María Toledo give the Bolero classic a major lift and a new perspective on the genre, while the string arrangement creates a delightful pillowy support. José Negroni explains the process: “Usually when we finish the arrangements, the trio begins to record the original songs and standards and we then choose the guests according to the concept of each theme.”
The album closer “Mis Recuerdos”, a reflection on the events of 2020, features the trio in a gentle ballad augmented by string quartet. While listening to the last notes of the track subtly fading out, one can feel the message of hope and uplift being driven home.
Complex and beautiful in its diversity, Esperanzas is the latest offering from a seasoned band that functions like a well-oiled machine - one that places a higher premium on group identity and concept over acrobatics and flashiness. A sign of the musical maturity of its members and a breath of fresh air, Esperanzas will surely delight all listeners.
MORE ABOUT NEGRONI’S TRIO
Negroni’s Trio possesses enough musical experience to captivate listeners of any musical genre. Comprised of a “father and son team”, José Negroni, on piano and keyboards, Nomar Negroni, on drums and percussions, completing the trio are numerous virtuoso bassist on the recordings and live performances. The Negroni team has worked together since 2002 as Co-Founders and Co-Producers to form an ensemble of master musicians who create their own unique voice in traditionally known jazz classics, Latin jazz and jazz fusion. Taking musical risks with performance and repertoire, the result is an array of classic lyricism mixed with innovative and sincere improvisations that quenches their audience’s thirst for world-class Jazz.
José, originally from humble beginnings in Puerto Rico, is a classically trained pianist, composer and arranger who is known internationally for his unique brand of jazz which fuses classical and Latin rhythms. He fulfilled his early musical years educating young promising talents in the world of music and later developing and strengthening his musical chops as musical director for many Latin artists that included Jose Luis Rodriguez, Chayanne, Ednita Nazario, Carmita Jiménez, Braulio and Plácido Dominguez Jr. Today teaching and mentoring still continues to be part of his daily life as he continues to find the space to devote time between concert tours to give back to the music education community.
Most recently Jose has chosen to express his musical genius through a trio of master musicians that he and his son Nomar have painstakingly assembled and is now well-known in the industry around the world. Nomar followed in his father’s footsteps and developed into a master musician in his own right. Nomar is a consummate percussionist a scholarship winner to The Berklee College of Music where he formally enhanced his notable skills and has worked on major projects with many internationally celebrated musicians such as Alejandro Sanz, Arturo Sandoval, Dr. Ed Calle & Oz Noy, to name only a few.
Negroni’s Trio is an intimate ensemble that performs on stages throughout the world including many U.S. and international Jazz festivals as well as numerous key Jazz venues throughout the United States, Japan, Spain, Italy, South America, the Caribbean, Latin America and including of course New York’s world-famous Blue Note Jazz Club. The music of NEGRONI’S TRIO receives airplay in more than 600 radio stations worldwide that includes the U.S., Japan, Spain, Italy, Argentina, England, Greece, Uruguay, Indonesia and Mexico.
"This Latin jazz piano trio keep getting nominated for awards because they have an innate sense of what the people want.." Read the full review here.
RAUL DA GAMA
LATIN JAZZ NET
"Once again Negroni’s Trio combines to make effervescent – and thoughtful – music with fingers, head and heart." Read the review here.
"In whatever language you speak, esperanza — “hope” in English — has been in distressingly short supply of late, between the turmoil of political divisiveness and the tragedy of a rampaging global virus. But that’s precisely why Negroni’s Trio decided to christen their vibrant 11th album Esperanzas (Sony Latin)." Read the full feature here.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"One sampling of Esperanzas is enough to give one new hope that music can conquer all. Pianist Jose Negroni and his exceptional trio has quite possibly recorded another Latin Grammy-nominated contender with another dazzling performance." Read the 4.5 star review here.