Downbeat praises Fareed Haque/Kaia String Quartet Delmark CD

Fareed Haque & KAIA String Quartet

New Latin American Music For Guitar And String Quartet (Delmark)

Earlier this year, musicians Julia A. Miller and Elbio Barilari acquired venerated Chicago label Delmark Records from its founder, Bob Koester, and the new owners wasted no time putting their own stamp on the endeavor. Delmark recently issued Paquito Libre—an album by Miller and Barilari’s band, Volcano Radar—which features reedist Paquito D’Rivera. Additionally, for guitarist Fareed Haque’s album with the KAIA String Quartet, New Latin American Music For Guitar And String Quartet, Barilari wore multiple hats, serving as co-producer (along with Daniel Goldberg), writing the album’s liner notes and composing “Canyengue,” one of nine tracks on the program. Barilari, who hails from Uruguay, contributes an apt piece that places him in august company: The other composers represented on this generous, 79-minute album are Argentina’s Astor Piazzolla (1921–’92), Cuba’s Leo Brouwer and Mexico’s Eduardo Angulo.

The album beautifully blurs the lines between jazz, classical, Latin and world music. Haque, who is equally at home playing classical guitar or electric fusion, sticks to an acoustic instrument here, teaming with the talented KAIA String Quartet: violinists Victoria Moreira and Naomi Culp, viola player Sixto Franco Chorda and cellist Hope Shepherd DeCelle. The centerpiece of the album is a stellar, 28-minute arrangement of Piazzolla’s suite Five Tango Sensations. Here, DeCelle’s cello work provides an intriguing, sturdy foundation in the movement titled “Loving.” Throughout the Piazzolla segment, and particularly during the rendition of Angulo’s suite El Alevin (The Minnow), Haque’s intricate playing techniques and sensitivity to the setting make for memorable music that warrants repeated spins. This album—which would appeal to fans of genre-blending artists such as the Kronos Quartet or Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble—is a wonderful entry in the expanding catalog of the 65-year-old Delmark label.

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