Germán Darío Pérez: Musical Director, piano, composition and arranging
Tiple: Ricardo Pedraza Medina
Contrabass: Mauricio Acosta Avellaneda
Album notes by Eliecer Arenas Monsalve
"I believe in things that are developed through hard work. I always like people who have developed long and hard, especially through introspection and a lot of dedication. I think what they arrive at is usually a much deeper and more beautiful thing than the person who seems to have that ability and fluidity from the beginning.”
(Bill Evans, How my heart sings. Peter Pettinger, Yale University Press, 1988, p. 24)
These words spoken by the celebrated pianist, Bill Evans, express more than anything the essence of the most recent production of the Trio Nueva Colombia - Mi Camino - a title that embodies its unity and coherence both poetically and conceptually.
“El camino” (life’s path or the course of life) is an evocative image. It relates to a life lived and compels us to conjure up places, people and important events, and to contemplate just how life has evolved up to the present moment and will continue doing so into the future. As Antonio Machado has said, “Al andar se hace camino” (Walking makes the path). Consciously or unconsciously, we construct our lives and our futures through the decisions we make, through our encounters and conflicts, and through our arrivals but also our departures. Such experiences, to become a source for musical inspiration and creation, must spring from conversations and silences, from intentions and memories, all of which are brought to life in the world of sound and articulated on the keyboard. It’s a matter of conversing with oneself as did the American maestro as expressed in such memorable compositions as Conversations with myself (1963), or Alone (1968).
This introspective and deeply personal work of Germán Darío Pérez as a composer has once again created a selection of profoundly deep and beautiful music. Such is no casual matter. Although there is apparently nothing in the music’s structure or sonority that denotes something extrinsic, it does go beyond either form or syntax by speaking to something external to itself. In this sense, German is a poet reflecting on encounters, on human and personal life; someone who knows just how to articulate the bonds of affection. Observing in detail his work clearly reveals this to be the case. More than half of his compositions allude to proper names, nicknames or life situations: Seré Papá (composed for his daughter Sofia), Principin (written for his son Santiago), Quelito (for his mother), Pa’ Juancho (for his uncle), Forever (for the maestro Fabián Forero), Monita Bonita (for his wife, Giselle), Saboyita(for Diego Saboya), Aloe (for his friend, Harmin Vera’s son), Toña la blanca (for his Labrador dog), La Chompa del Chino (for the maestro, Fernando León), Tranquilamente un Tipo Leal(written for his friend, Ciro Leal), El Pollo Lucas (for Lucas Saboya), Un bambuco muy cortico para mi amiga que toca el clarinete (for Claudia Rojas), Minimito (for the son of his friend, Maxecito), Garrapatica (for Alejandra Valenzuela) ), Como cuando eras triste(for Carlos Augusto Guzmán) and Composición para mi trío (for Ricardo Pedraza and Mauricio Acosta), to mention but a just a few. Likewise, this new collection contains the compositions, Artesano de poemas (for his father, Marco Julio Pérez), Martica (for his aunt, a nun), Cunsia (for his first platonic love), Manitas de plomo (for Ricardo Pedraza), Chilita (for his aunt Lucila), and León Cardona (in honor of the maestro antioqueño).
Germán Darío Peréz’s music is filled with affection, steeped in human experiences and rife with life. From his early stages to today, his musical texts display a characteristic expressive quality as evidenced in the delicacy and care with which he manages his sonorous compositions. Every note and chord arises from an intuition that has been trained for years and from a musical criterion he inexorably obeys and which are handled by a compositional technique that respects symmetry, delights in exquisite melodies and is imaginative and subtle in its harmonic combinations. There is in his music an impeccable logic fruit of a cultivated rationality stemming from both his academic studies and his autodidactic methods. Nevertheless, his exacting and rigorous musical mind is not limited exclusively to what his direct life experiences reveal to him. Being honest with himself is always his first priority.
From this sincere and non-pretentious stance, Germán composes what we would like to hear, within a tradition that provides a framework and reference that he knows and projects splendidly. After 30 years of having formed his Trio, he continues doing his thing, delving deep into the Andean tradition and discovering therein new forms of expression.
Although his music may not appeal to everyone, many followers the world over have come to enjoy it. The last three years have provided opportunities for him to travel throughout Europe and Latin America promulgating his work. In times when the ephemeral tends to reign, he reaches for profundity. Although he respects those who practice “surfing” with tradition, Germán prefers diving ever deeper into profound waters and discovering - as may be confirmed in the works of Mejia and Chucho Rey recorded on this album – musical gems found in a rich and complex tradition, which, in his capable hands, is a legacy to be disclosed and newly discovered. His work is nourished in this heritage and when performed with the tiple, piano and contrabass, this musical form, to which he has dedicated 30 years of his life, and for which he has long fought to preserve and promote, one can sense his authority as he skillfully fine tunes his intuition and perfects his language.
This undertaking, which future generations will most certainly reference, would not have become possible without the complementary involvement of other people, their stories, temperaments and contrasting realities. Ricardo Pedraza and Mauricio Acosta have been the patient musicians and students of this alchemist workshop that have managed to create traditional Colombian music of which they are lords and masters and which is almost a tradition in and of itself. For the moment, they continue being unique, solitary seekers pressing forward against the current fully convinced of their work’s importance and of the responsibility they have as recognized icons. Ricardo on the tiple, noteworthy from the beginning, displays a precise, rhythmic and clean sound and is capable of articulating the slightest break, melodic subtlety or nuance of musical resonance. His silences, the ambient quality generated by his guajeo (arpeggiated chords in syncopated patterns), and his precise split second attacks displaying a perfect aplatillado technique, will for years be the object of study and a cause for admiration. Mauricio, for his part, provides a secure foundation, the reliable support upon which the architecture of the group’s sound is projected.
The Trio Nueva Colombia’s music recreates a traditional Colombian music which is open to diverse influences, while still being firmly anchored in the past with many of its own referents. While many announce the arrival of a dark night for traditional Andean musicians, bright luminaries like Oriol Rangel, Luis A. Calvo, Francisco Cristancho, Leon Cardona and Jesus A, Rey, among many others, still continue lighting the way forward, inspiring and suggesting new exploratory routes.
Mi Camino honors this tradition with previously unpublished works by German Dario Perez from different periods and circumstances: ones composed in his youth like Cunsia and others of a later date like Manitas de Plomo. There are others composed more recently, music he has mostly written in the little black notebook he has carried in his pocket for the last three years allowing him, as he himself maintains, to scribble down the sonorous musical notes that continually come to his mind. Additionally, the recording includes the musical piece Pasillo en si menor (Campanas), by Adolfo Mejia, perhaps the piece that most embodies the Andean tradition, a version that preserves the color palette and the impressionistic harmonics so beloved by the composer, but with a rhythmic balance that summons up the Andean Mountain landscape. The pasillo by Chucho Rey is like a wild flower growing arrogantly in the middle of some asphalt, perfect and admirable in its vulnerability and delicateness. Leon Cardona, one of the most outstanding pieces on the recording, expresses German’s heartfelt gratitude, respect and admiration for the composer from Antioquia. In a subtle and delicate intertextual composition, German Dario plays seven notes of one of his emblematic works, thereby placing the venerated maestro front and center as a metaphor for his perennial presence in the creative work of his generation.
Germán Darío could well have spoken of his work as did Bill Evans so many years ago:
“I work with simple resources because I am a simple person, and I come from a simple dance music tradition and from everyday jobs and although – let’s say – I have studied many other musical genres, I believe that I know my limitations well and I try to work within them. Truly, there is no limit for expression if I feel an internal need to say something. That’s where the problem lies: a problem that is emotional, creative-emotional.”
All creative people dream of having their own recognizable language. In this, the third recording of the Trio Nueva Colombia, Germán Darío, in full creative maturity, displays a flawless sobriety, consistency and profundity in the dances, bambucos and pasillos he composes always moving within a terrain in which only the greatest artists dare tread, a place where neither the humble reiteration of the commonplace occurs nor does the unrecognizable and eccentric surface. It may sound simple enough, but as all creative people know, finding a place within such narrow boundaries and communicating with a singular language, is only achieved by exceedingly eminent artists. The Trio Nueva Colombia has once again succeeded in accomplishing just that end.
released April 18, 2017
Produced by Alejandro Sánchez-Samper and Iván Beltrán
Engineered by Alejandro Sánchez-Samper, Iván Beltrán and Rob Rimmington
Mixed and mastered by Alejandro Sánchez-Samper
Assistant engineers: Carlos Patiño Durán, Daniella Pardo Quintana, Patrick Montanari, Joel iglesias and Adestin Grant
Assistants: Alexa Rosado, Chris Moraine and Fookloy Ford
Album design and artwork: Jesse La Pierre
Recorded at Florida Atlantic University, University Theatre Jun. 6-9, 2016.
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