Review: Cristina Pato Quartet at the Chan Centre
Galician gaita master Cristina Pato proved that there is most certainly a place for bagpipe in jazz.
By Stuart Derdeyn
Joining forces with Texas bassist Edward Perez, Brazilian drummer Mauricio Zottarelli and French accordionist Julien Labro, she formed the Cristina Pato Quartet to explore the rhythmic and compositional legacies of the Spanish/American/Latin American musical traditions. As captured on the 2015 recording Latina, the band converges upon a suite of music composed by Perez that combines popular folkloric 6/8 metered musical styles with exploratory jazz.
Imagine a bagpiper playing with the passion and emotion of John Coltrane on sax and you’ve got this incredible band and its leader in focus. This concert was nothing short of a revelation.
Opening with a muñuiera to set the tone, the band wasted no time in showing its incredible depth and chops. Throughout the set, which included the Latina Suite, Peruvian folk standard Maria Lento and Miles Davis’ Blue In Green, the band members all took lengthy solos that showcased their exceptional chops as well as telepathic dialogue with one another.
Pato took time to outline the journey that they would take the audience on, and proved why she is so in demand as an educator, author and thinker besides being a killer player. Her lecture is almost as good as her playing. Almost.
Blazing on the bagpipes, she not only soared and roared, but proved that “lead guitar face” can be adapted to any instrument. She danced, rocked back and forth, strained to get the notes and brought intense and total emotional conviction to her music. Whether on bagpipe, piano, vocals or a tour de force tambourine tune, Pato was never less than amazing.
And the music just grooved so deeply, with a vital force that only the best jazz bands can deliver. Joyous, expansive and exciting, the material from the album took on whole new dimensions. This is most certainly a band you need to see live to appreciate as it just isn’t captured to the same degree on meticulously rendered albums.
Perez could groove like a monster, Zottarelli is a drummer whose solos just sing with invention and Labro is almost on equal footing with the bandleader in what he can do on the accordion.
Classically trained, the Canadian permanent resident should be on every folk and jazz festival programmer’s list of artists to book. Both he and Pato move around their respective instruments with the kind of muscle memory technique that non-players can only marvel at. The speed, the subtlety and nuance that were part of every moment in this exceptional show left the crowd awestruck.