Edward Simon, Venezuelan Suite (Sunnyside)
Few jazz albums have been devoted to the music of Venezuela. Victor Feldman’s superb The Venezuelan Joropo (1967) was an exception. Latin musicians were impressed with the authenticity that Feldman achieved using Los Angeles colleagues to interpret traditional Venezuelan music. When it comes to authenticity, however, Edward Simon has an advantage. He is a native of Venezuela who has established himself in the US as a versatile pianist, composer and arranger. Venezuelan Suite has four parts named for cities or regions in the country. Each section uses typical rhythms or song forms. “Caracas,” for instance, is a meringue, “Barinas” a joropo, the dance rhythm that also inspired Feldman. The instrumentation incorporates flute, harp and percussion, all essential to Venezuelan music. Simon, tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, flutist Marcos Granados, bass clarinetist John Ellis and drummer Adam Cruz are among the stars of this delightful album.