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Leonardo La Peruta | The Emotional Touch

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Jazz: Progressive Jazz Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz Moods: Type: Acoustic
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The Emotional Touch

by Leonardo La Peruta

If Technique was the sole objective, the project would remain sterile. However, Technique in itself can express beauty. Music could be sensed as an analogue language “par excellence” and as Emotions, both need a gesture, a sound to express themselves.
Genre: Jazz: Progressive Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Disparàte In Blue
4:20 $0.99
2. Mark Makes Miles
6:37 $0.99
3. Very Vain Vagary
7:17 $0.99
4. No Chance, No Way
4:29 $0.99
5. Sky Smart Sunrise
6:26 $0.99
6. Red Sur
9:23 $0.99
7. Nap New Night
6:51 $0.99
8. Are We Dancing?
6:29 $0.99
9. She Could Smile
6:50 $0.99
10. Blues Andaluz
6:16 $0.99
11. Red Sur (alternate take)
9:57 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Artist: Leonardo La Peruta Quartet
Album: The Emotional Touch
Review by Bryan Rodgers

Jazz as an art form is becoming less and less prevalent in the United States and, arguably, the world. It’s getting tougher and tougher to make a name playing such sounds, and a good number of special musicians are being ignored. Phenomenal players, such as Leonardo La Peruta, are always making fine music that flies beneath even the most attuned jazz radar. His quartet’s first release, The Emotional Touch, is a disarmingly playful, mentally engaging collection of original tunes that features loads of dynamic group interplay. It is a pleasure to see the date “2011” stamped on such an enjoyable listen, as presumptive as that may be. Such is the mindset of the modern jazz listener, in which musical quality is so often proportional to the age of a recording. La Peruta and his pals (drummer Julio Perez, bassist Guillermo Morente, and pianist David Lenker) aren’t going to replace any of the old guard in the hierarchy of jazz. Rather, their strengths lie in the noble continuation of the form and the sizeable dose of talent, creativity, and nuance they bring to the table.

The album’s title may foster thoughts of sterile synthesizers and safe playing, but the music on The Emotional Touch is quite the opposite. Avoiding the smooth jazz tendencies of so many modern instrumentalists, La Peruta doesn’t shy away from sonic flamboyance. Two tracks in, on the sneaky “Mark Makes Miles,” he unleashes a jarring squall of sound that puts to rest any notions of taking it easy. He and Lenker fool around with all manner of moods within the song’s loose boundaries, from hectic note-mongering to thoughtful, measured runs. Lenker is afforded nearly as much room as La Peruta, and it’s no surprise given his apparent ability. His notes dart over and underneath each other in layers of dizzying motion when the band is hot, and his timely chords provide foundation for quieter moments, such as his own “Blues Andaluz.”

Morente and Perez make up one of the most unrestrained rhythm sections you’ll ever hear. Perez somehow keeps his eyes on the rhythmic target while his hands and feet wander elsewhere. La Peruta’s compositions are as tricky as the listener would expect from such a limitless player, alternately swinging, stopping, starting, and fluttering, often within the same timespan. Perez is unflappable, conquering every colorful burst of melody that La Peruta and Lenker can conjure, as heard on the mellifluous “Very Vain Vagary.” Perez is never content to let the honkers and plinkers have all the fun, frequently reaching out into the unknown as easily as his counterparts. Morente exhibits similar qualities, holding down the music’s essential melodic and rhythmic moorings while engaging everyone’s ears. He never makes the expected move as he wryly wriggles underneath Lenker’s Fender keyboard and La Peruta’s righteous blowing on “No Chance No Way” and strides ruefully beside the beat on the mellow “Sky Smart Sunrise,” where he also takes a gut-wrenching solo.

La Peruta may be the namesake of the band, but he by no means dominates The Emotional Touch. Anyone smart enough to play six different wind instruments on one album is smart enough to know when he’s in the presence of monster players, and the quartet mentality pays off magnificently for him here.

Review by Bryan Rodgers
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

Leonardo La Peruta
Album Title: The Emotional Touch
Review by: Dan MacIntosh

“If technique was the sole objective, the project would remain sterile,” Leonardo La Peruta writes in the notes to The Emotional Touch, one mighty fine jazz recording. And that is so true! It’s interesting how musicians are trained to get their tone and all the notes just right while learning their instruments. However, once that big part of their musical journey is mastered, professional musicians likely spend the rest of their lives trying to transcend mere technical mastery, in hopes of touching listeners emotionally with their music. Technique can never make an emotional connection.

Leonardo La Peruta is a fine saxophonist from Spain, with a wide range of musical talents. He plays alto, tenor, soprano and baritone saxophone, as well as flute and bass clarinet. The Emotional Touch is comprised of 11 tracks, all of which La Peruta wrote, with the exception of “Blues Andalus,” which pianist David Lenker composed.

La Peruta is supported by drummer Julio Perez, double bass player Guillermo Morente – in addition to Lenker – throughout. The one minor exception is “She Could Smile,” which also includes guitarist Marcelo Saenz.

“Blues Andaluz” stands out from the rest of these tracks for its slow, meditative pace. Interestingly, it doesn’t really sound like true blues. Instead, it features a very simply melodic line and a softly smooth beat.

One of these compositions (“Red Sur”) is included twice. At approximately 10 minutes long, these two tracks add up to a big chunk of this CD’s overall 75-minute length. For the original version – the one not listed as a bonus track – finds La Peruta playing a lovely baritone saxophone. It really gives the song a lot of depth and power. In fact, it makes the listener wish La Peruta would play a little more baritone saxophone. It’s just an instrument that’s not heard from nearly enough. On both recorded instances of the song, pianist Lenker stands out for his fine acoustic piano playing. The song gives him plenty of space to stretch out and show off what he does so well.

La Peruta writes and plays straight ahead jazz, which is refreshing. Therefore, if you’re expecting a thumping electric bass groove, skittering electric guitar and simplistic pop melodic lines, you’ve come to the wrong place. Instead, La Peruta writes thoughtful – and sometimes complicated – compositions. Even so, this doesn’t mean the music is always overly serious and brainy. For instance, “Sky Smart Sunrise” is a lovely, lyrical tune. Drummer Perez playfully skips all over his snare drum, while La Peruta instrumentally scats fun notes. It hearkens back to the heyday of Dave Brubeck Quartet, and cool jazz tunes like “Take Five.” At the same time, it sounds like it could also easily be a soundtrack song to one of those Peanuts TV shows. And that’s not by any means a put-down; some of the best popular jazz tunes came out of those old shows. It reveals the sincere joy La Peruta exhibits while he’s performing. He loves playing this music, and it shows.

The closest La Peruta comes to sounding modern, may well be “No Chance, No Way.” On it, Lenker anchors the track with a spunky Fender Rhodes part. La Peruta uses this groovy keyboard part as his take-off runway, so to speak. The song really swings, as drummer Perez keeps a low profile, only lightly touching his drums and cymbals.

It’s frustrating to hear a fine jazz recording such as this one and realize that the odds are strongly stacked against it ever finding a large audience. Jazz, particularly the acoustic, good stuff, has become a niche market at best. And that’s a shame because The Emotional Touch is so, well, emotionally touching.

Review by: Dan MacIntosh
Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)

Artist: Leonardo La Peruta Quartet
Album: The Emotional Touch
Review by Nick DeRiso

Leonardo La Peruta begins The Emotional Touch with a series of skillful runs on the saxophone, almost like a call to arms. “Desperate in Blue” eventually settles into a lithe rhythm signature, but not before La Peruta has served notice: His is a talent boasting skill, precision and some serious swing.

As “Desperate in Blue” concludes, with pianist David Lenker following close behind La Peruta’s brilliant runs, the stage is set for a versatile tour de force. Each of the songs, save for Lenker’s “Blues Andalus,” was written by La Peruta. He imbues each one with a distinct personality.

“Mark Makes Miles” begins in a suitably contemplative fashion, in keeping with the cool jazz aesthetic that Miles Davis came to be known for in the late 1950s. Here the ebb then flow of the piece showcases the deft touch of La Peruta’s rhythm section, as drummer Julio Perez and bassist Guillermo Morente provide a textured soundscape for the reedman’s increasingly complex excursions. Before long, La Peruta is pushing his sax into the stellar regions more associated with Davis’ most notable one-time sideman, John Coltrane.

La Peruta then switches to bass clarinet for “Vain Vain Vagary,” giving the song all of the intrigue of an old-fashioned cop-show car chase. “No Chance, No Way,” which finds Lenker adding a 1970s-fusion vibe with a turn on the Fender Rhodes, is its own fast-paced romp. The group slows that torrid pace a bit for “Sky Smart Sunrise,” and that quietude allows for some fascinating brush work by Perez. La Peruta’s tone on the sax is as warm as it is inviting.

Then the baritone-driven “Red Sur” begins this great push and pull, as the tune is yanked one way by a pulsing groove by Morente on bass and then the other by Lenker’s West Coast-cool bursts at the piano. La Peruta is the glue holding it all together, sounding by turns appropriately pugnacious and then delightfully elegant. (The Emotional Touch closes with a bonus reworking of this track, as well, with La Peruta switching saxes.)
“Nap New Night,” with Lenker again on the Rhodes, sounds like its name – a lullaby of sugar-plum surprises. La Peruta’s playing then mimics the bright flashes of light associated with these dreamscapes. Later, as he moves into the song’s middle section, La Peruta’s playing is as spacious and intimate as the deeper R.E.M. sleep that follows our tossings and turnings. It’s a brilliantly constructed composition.

Morente’s insistent bass opens “Are We Dancing?,” and the tendency might be to expect a groove-based number designed to get a crowd kicking up its heels. Instead, La Peruta has fashioned a modern jazz piece with a thrilling number of moving parts – starting with his own angular solo. Perez and Morente begin a thrumming, chaotic counterpoint, even as Lenker descends into a pounding, exclamatory signature. La Peruta skitters above them all, showing a tremendous command of an outside playing style that couldn’t have seemed further away just one song ago.

There are feature moments for two of La Peruta’s sideman: Guitarist Marcelo Saenz is added to the quartet for the La Peruta original “She Could Smile,” and he adheres so closely to the saxophonist’s curling lines that it’s difficult to believe they’re not conjoined. His solo is both smooth and uncannily fluent. But there, as on Lenker’s subsequent tune “Blues Andaluz,” Le Peruta’s presence continues to sit at the center of things. On the latter, the saxophonist turns what might have been an obvious opportunity to blow in the R&B style into something truly transformative. He’s just as emotionally open here as he had been intellectually demanding on “Are We Dancing.”

Until the very end, The Emotional Touch defies expectations. That’s thanks largely to La Peruta’s complete command of his instrument.

Review by Nick DeRiso
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

Artist: Leonardo La Peruta Quartet
Album: The Emotional Touch
Review by Wildy Haskell

Leonardo La Peruta has made a name for himself as one of the most sought after progressive jazz saxophone players in Europe. His Leonardo la Peruta Quartet traverses the styles and sounds of the 1960’s and 1970’s, from bebop to hard bop to jazz fusion. The Leonardo La Peruta Quartet’s The Emotional Touch sounds like it could have been recorded by Miles Davis’ band in a series of outtake sessions.

The Emotional Touch opens with "Disparate In Blue", a progressive jazz jam that recalls John Coltrane's work with Miles Davis. La Peruta shows an affinity for lightning fast runs and trills on saxophone; achieving technical perfection but occasionally over-filling the sonic space. La Peruta's band mates match him step-by-step, with the piano work standing out as exceptional. "Mark Makes Miles" is spritely and alive, progressive in an angular style that is more about action than musical progression. The pianist once again steals the show with grandiose, neo-classical breakdowns amidst jazz runs. "Very Vain Vagary" continues the alliterative naming convention of the album in an overly busy, piano-driven number. The showy quality to this number declaims a tendency to be more about what individual members of the quartet can do than what they can play.

"No Chance, No Way" is a mellow, yet lively number. La Peruta's saxophone dances over a rhythmic mellotron and the polyrhythmic brilliance of bass and percussion. La Peruta and band take a more thoughtful approach here, and it shows in the quality of their interplay. "Sky Smart Sunrise" features a diffuse, lyric style in La Peruta's saxophone that is a welcome change of pace. The piano and rhythm section work magic underneath. This number borders on overly busy at times, but is always pulled back before losing itself in a cacophony of notes.

The absolute highlight of the album is in the brilliant sense of expectation woven through "Red Sur". The Leonardo La Peruta Quartet is hitting on all eight cylinders here, with every solo spot on, and each transition like magic. The band takes one more shot at the triple word score with "Nap New Night", a lyric and mellow jazz number that fits in well with the general cadence of the album, but may pass without significant notice for some listeners. "Are We Dancing?" is messy and unfocused. La Peruta et. al. get major points for exuberance here, but that energy gets the best of them, with instruments intruding on one another at regular intervals. The recovery on "She Could Smile" is grand. The song is an intriguing blend of light and dark; happiness and contemplation. Uncertainty plays at the edges of a buoyant and classy number; an intriguing experience for the listener.

Leonardo La Peruta continues the great jazz traditions of the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's, where artists pushed one another and the bounds of jazz itself, creating ever more progression and derivation in the art form. Elements of bop, hard bop and jazz fusion can be found throughout The Emotional Touch, with La Peruta changing styles sometimes without notice. La Peruta's quartet can be as professional as they come, although there are times on The Emotional Touch when exuberance overcomes form. It seems likely that this is a stylistic/artistic choice rather than by accident, but these moments tend to create some serious cognitive dissonance for the listener at home. Nevertheless, there's a lot here to like.

Review by Wildy Haskell
Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)



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