Rai Castells – â€œWelcomeâ€ – Another Planet Records
Rai Castells is a Barcelona born / Berklee bred guitarist who has studied with some of the best the East coast jazz scene has to offer and it shows a lot in his playing ; weâ€™re talking about musicians like George Garzone, Joe Lovano, Hal Crook, Mick Goodrick, and Joanne Bracken. Heâ€™s making a name for himself in Spainâ€™s jazz scene where heâ€™s from, but itâ€™s clear he will go world class soon. We received his CD â€œWelcomeâ€ that was inspired by his time at the Boston jazz school, and itâ€™s clear that heâ€™s learned his lessons well.
â€œAround The Planetâ€ kicks off with a rather diabolical unison line played by the bass and and guitar with drums, and then an equally scary â€œMike Stern-ishâ€ hip melody is played over the same line by Rai with saxophonist Miguel ‘Pintxo’ Villar joining on the unison. The solos hit hard in a a modern straight ahead way. After spirited soloing, the turns winds up with a maniacal musical â€œroundâ€ with the various lines in the tune all weaving around each other in a post bop harmony swirl.
â€œLooped Suiteâ€ is a very cool murky modal mood, with Max Villavecchiaâ€™s piano playing the looped 6/8 dark ostinato. The haunting melody in the guitar and saxophone is followed by a long written unison solo line, before both Rai and Max, who branch out on their own in a conversation with each other. The suite winds down softly as everyone drops out until it ends as it started with just piano.
Jordi Gasparâ€™s acoustic bass plays a stark and in your face solo intro, and then all of the sudden the driving 5/4 theme of â€œCincâ€ comes unexpectantly out of nowhere. Castellsâ€™s â€œjust a little gritâ€ guitar tone and angular lines propel things until Villavecchiaâ€™s piano solo shifts gears to a more introspective mode, and then itâ€™s on to a very nice drum solo over the groove by Jordi GardeÃ±as. Overall, the tune continues to show Raiâ€™s propensity for being able to write interesting melodies over cool grooves.Things wind up as they started, with the band little by little dropping down and out to leave Gasparâ€™s bass on itâ€™s own to eventually wind things down to a single note.
â€œInto Somethingâ€ is a lean post-bop minor modal tune with a very â€œintelligentsiaâ€ sophisticated head. Villar plays a very Coltrane-esque solo, sort of â€œA Love Supreme-ishâ€ but with his own harmonic voice. Raiâ€™s compelling solo is hip and driving, and Maxâ€™s solo also brings â€œA Love Supremeâ€ to mind, even quoting from it once.
â€œMissingâ€ begins with a beautiful introspective unaccompanied guitar intro, building to a ballad with a very pretty and memorable melody. This was probably one of my favoriteâ€™s on the record, and shows a lot of sophistication in Castellsâ€™ composition skills. Gaspar plays a very lyrical bass solo, with Villarâ€™s sax then taking it over to the next level up. Villavecchiaâ€™s piano solo is economical and brooding, and then the saxophone melody enters with Rai playing some choice fills around it to take it out.
â€œVaranasiâ€ is an uptempo sort of Latin affair with a wistful melody played in harmony between the guitar and saxophone. It features Raiâ€™s most lyrical solo on the record, which evokes the sort of dark beauty that Pat Metheny always offers on this kind of tune. Not to be outdone, Villar turns in one of his best solos on the record as well, as with Villavecchiaâ€™s piano solo. Itâ€™s a great tune, and those kind of tunes always seem to propel a soloist.
â€œLostâ€ is a cool bright swing tune the changes gears a number of times, and offers very cool solos as well. â€œTetricâ€ is a pulsating driving affair that shifts meters often, and has a sort of Spanish flavor. It features a churning saxophone solo from Villar.
The record goes out on a positive groove with â€œEverything is Possibleâ€, itâ€™s singable simple melody would make it an obvious choice for a radio single from the record. Villavecchia supports the melody with clouds of arpeggios underneath it, and then goes to a wistful section that starts with just his piano, and then leading back to the melody momentarily, followed by very nice solos from both Rai and Miguel, and then grooves itâ€™s way out the door with the melody.
Rai Castells is a guitarist that fans of Pat Metheny, Jonathan Kreisberg and the like will for sure enjoy. He plays well and writes well, and you donâ€™t find both in the same package a lot. If he sticks with it and keeps performing, writing and recording, he should be able to go anywhere he wants with hist music.
Miguel ‘Pintxo’ Villar_sax
Record Label: Another Planet Records
Release date: November 23th, 2018