Reincarnated (featuring Al DiMeola)
Any time there’s a chance to a great guitarist play Luiz Bonfa’s iconic “Black Orpheus,” that’s reason enough to investigate an album from a new artist, at least to this writer. Hazar is a superb acoustic guitarist who teams with luminary guitarist Al DiMeola, percussionist Mehmet Katay, pianist Mike Roelos, and bass clarinetist Pitor Torunski, who together take us through bossa-novas, Gypsy swing, bebop, and hints of flamenco.
Ulas Hazar, professionally known as just Hazar, is relatively undiscovered in North America so it feels gratifying to be spreading some awareness. Hazar grew up in Germany, spent years on the saz, a three-stringed, long-necked lute, microtonal music, and polyrhythms, inspired by Pace de Lucia. Hazar blended Eastern and Western music on his acclaimed Virtuoso album, surprising string experts by playing Niccolo Paganini’s “Caprices” on three strings. At the behest of John McLaughlin, he then took up the acoustic guitar. This is his first recording on the instrument, which he has inevitably already mastered. Hence, the album title.
“Made for Wesley” opens, somewhat reminiscent of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “No More Blues.” You’ll quickly detect his blistering runs on the guitar but with the melody solidly intact. On Chick Corea’s “Spain” DiMeola (for the only track he appears on) contributes guitar and the cajon, a percussion instrument. “Boss Dorado” is both a bossa nova and inventive jazz piece, again displaying the facility of Hazar in rapid tempo. “Black Orpheus” is, of course, magical, buoyed by Roelos’ shimmering piano playing and Torunski on the low end. The players then get spirited for Bireli Lagrene’s jazz waltz, “Made In France,” a riveting showcase for Hazar.
Hazar’s take on the well-worn “Summertime” shows his creative side and stellar interplay with the pianist while the Brazilian oriented “For Sephora” is further evidence of his versatility, crystal guitar tone, and dazzling speed. The latter is obviously a requisite for Bird’s conic “Donna Lee” where Hazar is way beyond simply fast. It’s difficult to imagine fingers moving so rapidly but you can see it in the accompany Bu-ray which is packaged with the deluxe set. Hazar solos in breathtaking fashion on the traditional “Le Vieux Tzigane,” where every note comes through with utter clarity, bringing an end to a very quick 40 minutes, that will have most listeners quickly hitting the replay button.
An investigation of the classy enclosed booklet reveals some interesting information about the incredibly pristine sound. IAN stands for Immersive Audio Network. The production team prides itself on creating a unparalleled sound experience explaining that their philosophy is to provide direct access to intense and deep emotions while listening to the music – thus making you feel as if you were there in the same room as the musicians, sharing the deep pleasure in the music. The Pure Audio Blu-ray is equipped with mShuttle technology. There’s also reference to Auro-3D, the next generation of three-dimensional audio standard. Rather than engage in too much technical jargon, check this out. You’ll be rewarded.
Hazar’s Reincarnated is elegantly relaxing. Undoubtedly word of Hazar’s technical and melodic abilities will spread quickly.
- Jim Hynes