Half Notes: Jessie Marquez, "La Herida (The Wound)" (2011)

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Listening, you’d be hard pressed to place Jessie Marquez, a sensual American singer with Cuban roots, anywhere near her hometown of Eugene, Ore. There is something so otherworldly, so richly textured, so intimate and humid and spicy about tracks like “La Herida.” Written by Gustavo Rodriguez, this redemptive tune is part of Marquez’s new release All I See Is Sky, to be issued on May 31 on Carena Records — and further confirmation of a burgeoning talent. Marquez burst onto the jazz scene in 2004, as her Havana-recorded Sana Locura shot to the top of the Latin jazz and salsa charts in the U.S. and Europe. Her new album builds on that success, even as it continues to uncover new complexities.

Clay Giberson, who coproduced All I See Is Sky with bassist Phil Baker (Diana Ross, Pink Martini) and Bob Stark, opens “La Herida” with a trenchant run on the electric piano, even as this percussive din from Rafael Trujillo wells up behind Marquez. Later, saxophonist John Nastos provides an impish aside. But it’s Marquez who holds a consumptive sway on the proceedings — memorably singing, in a devastating jumble of Spanish, “whenever I’m with you, a shadow passes over my heart,” before willfully reminding herself “yes, that you love me.” Her voice, at once chocolate sweet and darkly mysterious, is always just ahead of the undulating polyrhythms — like an impetuous new lover leading us to adventures yet unknown.

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Half Notes is a quick-take music feature on Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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