Half Notes: Lucia Pulido – Waning Moon (2008)

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by S. Victor Aaron

Vocalist Lucia Pulido is perhaps not well known in America, but she when it comes to the traditional music of her native Columbia, she’s a real keeper of the flame. Her new CD, the third of hers as a leader, uses both originals and traditional songs to bring alive the music of the different regions of Columbia: the Caribbean, the Pacific Coast and the Eastern Plains. It’s almost like listening to an issue of National Geographic, instead of reading it.

Upon further listening, though, I realize there’s some avant garde jazz aspects to the music not too unlike William Parker’s Corn Meal Dance, and that’s no coincidence. Since Pulido’s arrival in NYC in 1994, she’s worked with such forward-thinking artists as Erik Friedlander and Dave Binney. I’m most reminded of Parker in the Stomu Takeishi/Pulido duo number “Yo No Tengo Quien Me Quiera,” where Takeishi’s expressive, deliberative acoustic bass complements Pulido’s vocal to the fullest.

You don’t have to know anything about Columbian music to appreciate her singing skills. She performs some pretty impressive vocal gymnastics that rely a lot on cadence and operatic acumen to pull off, such as the shifting “Dejala Llorar,” (which also has some nice clarinet work by Adam Kolker). There are several other examples where Pulido deftly and subtly adds advanced jazz elements to the traditional music in such a way that enhance the tradition, not dilute it. That makes Waning Moon much more than just some anthropology lesson.

“Quickies” are mini-record reviews of new or upcoming releases, or “new to me.” Some albums are just that much more fun to listen to than to write about.

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