There was a time in the history of civilisations when global travel was tediously slow, treacherous and conducted only via overland and maritime routes. Ironically this was when there was not only a great understanding of cultures, but also a genuine meeting of minds politically, therefore, socially and, of necessity, artistically too. It was the time when the Medieval Spain was considered The Ornament of the World. María Rosa Menocal has written wonderfully about it in a book of that name. Everything seems to have fallen apart in the late-fifteenth century. Happily all art survived. But it is indeed fortuitous and significant that artists like the South American composer and trumpeter Martín Loyato have been able to re-connect so deeply with what has survived. Loyato had to travel to the Mediterranean for that, of course, to live in Lebanon where he unpacked his curiosity and hunger for Involution.
The word is loaded with meaning; pointing inward, to the elusive, intangible confluence of body and soul, which is exactly where, it seems, the spirit of the peripatetic artist such as Martín Loyato comes alive. However, even for men like Mr. Loyato, it takes enlightenment quite beyond the conservatoire – a penetration of the ideas and deepest secrets of art that raises the artistry of men like Martín Loyato to The Divine. Something magical must have happened for this to have come to be on Involution, a nine-part recording – a not-so-loosely-connected suite of ethereal beauty that is not at all difficult to love and – with a bit of delving into the world of improvisation – almost as easily accessible. Mr. Loyato has written notes to the music. However, reading this is not essential to enjoying the disc at all, but it is useful in understanding where Mr. Loyato is coming from in his desire to write music – this music, to be precise.
Listening to the music is quite another experience. One is seized by the work’s intensity. The haloed all-encompassing trumpet – sounding hopelessly lost at first; then slowly finding its way into alignment, so to speak, with a hidden force that carries it forward into the pitch black of the unknown vortex it finds itself – is powerful, magnetic and wholly mesmerising. There are echoes of Miles Davis from his Gil Evans period and also when he (Mr. Davis) was making records such as Agartha and Pangea. However, the parallels diverge from there onwards and it is as if Mr. Loyato is on course to collide with John Coltrane – if with anyone in the Jazz world. The conventional wisdom, if you like, is that Mr. Loyato is following a path of his own steering a course somewhere between the ancient Persian and Indian master musicians (which is indicated in the supernatural opening to this disc: “Saraswati”) and an ethereal shape-shifting world shaped more by an almost Celtic nature (“Kindred Spirits”) than the Jazz one, that (even he) speaks of.
Of course common ground is maintained by long improvised passages inspired by as much by Jazz as the whirling dances of Mr. Loyato’s native Argentina (“Danza De Las Ánimas”). But this is also broken up by soaring Middle Eastern melodic sojourns when Mr., Loyato shares the stage with a large and inspired Lebanese musical contingent that includes a sixteen-voice choir, out-player Ziyad Sahhab, Lety Elnaggar, who plays the Turkish ney brass and winds players from South America, other important musicians from the Levant and most gloriously the soaring vocals of Hisham Hallak. Mostly, however, all of this music shines in the glistening notes of Mr. Loyato’s quartet-tone trumpet and flugelhorn and also in his intuitive manipulation of electronic pedals, pads, keyboards and heaven knows what else. No matter; the effect is ethereally beautiful and absolutely magical.
Track list – 1: Saraswati; 2: Kindred Spirits; 3: Lullaby for the Moon; 4: Be Aware of Love; 5: Danza De Las Ánimas; 6: Involution; 7: Perpetual Moonlight; 8: Intuition; 9: Las Dos Caras de la Incertidumbre
Personnel – Martín Loyato: trumpet (9), quarter-tone trumpet (1, 3, 6 – 8), quartet-tone flugelhorn (2, 4, 5, 7), valve trombone (6), Native American flutes, Bolivian Moseño flute, kigonki (5), piano (3) and electronics (1 – 3, 5 – 9); José Jiménez: tuba (6); Diego Chono González: bass saxophone (6); Miguel Fernandez: tenor saxophone (6); Lety Elnaggar: ney (7); Ramzi Ramman: acoustic guitar (1), electric guitar (2, 8); Mohammed Zahzah: electric guitar and electronics (2, 7); Jean Madani: electric bass (7); Ziyad Sabbab: oud (7); Ae-Jeong Lee: violin (6); Chang Hyun: viola (6); Richard Vaudrey: violoncello (2); Petros Sakelliou: Fender Rhodes (3, 8), synthesizer (8); Ghassan Sahhab: qanun (4); Walid Baba Nasser: frames (4); Hashim Hallak: vocals (4, 7); Choir (6, 8) – sopranos: Youmna Chamma Bou Hadir, Lynn Jbeily, Rim Armouch, Farah Armouch, Najla Sadek, Rim, Atie. Altos: Natalie Maalouf, Nada Baba, Karen Hamad, Sarah Abi Samra, Mira Hout, Sarah Jawhar, Mona Salemeh. Tenors: Majd Zeid Khiam, Mohammed Zahzah. Bass: Jawad El-Mawla. Yasmina Sabbah: choir director
Released – 2017
Label – Syncretism Records
Runtime – 56:12