Carlos Velasco: a worker of his own inspiration

February 27, 2012

The guitarist from Vizcaya, Carlos
Velasco, belongs to a race of composers who are the true proletariats of music
– workers of their own inspiration.  After
having spent years working actively in many different aspects of the Basque
music scene, Velasco has now brought out his first original album, which gives
free rein to his skills as both a composer and a performer.

A self-taught musician, the guitar
player wears his heart on his sleeve in this album, sometimes explicitly as in Bon
dedicated to West Montgomery, which he performs to the fibrous
musical accompaniment of the North American pianist Joshua Edelman.  The shadow of one of his maestros,
Joe Pass, is also evident in the clean, cadent, meaningful and elegant phrasing
of tracks such as A vueltas, Días de
and Por ti,
in which beauty is slow-cooked over a low flame, between silences, something
which says a lot for his excellent musical instincts. This is one
of the great qualities which set Carlos Velasco apart from the rest – he knows
how to let his melodic constructions and phrases breathe and rest, in order to
render them freer and more open. Another of his abilities stems from his
adolescence, and brings us face to face with his fascination with blues and its
related genres.
Great compositions such as Doble o
and Five in Blue
(this last one with the inestimable help of the organist Gorka Iraundegui) are
therefore only to be expected. And there’s more, since the guitarist takes us
to other parallel jazz universe on the back of recreations of Latin music such
as Mejor así  – a kind of cha-cha-cha
which some may recognise from its old title Cachalote or Saltillo,
a track with tex-mex skin and a bossa nova soul. These two
songs are probably those which best 
demonstrate the musician’s astounding compositional skills.

Special mention should perhaps be
made of one of the album’s most vibrant tracks: That old touch. Velasco puts
a friend from his time with Pork Pie Hat at the forefront of this track. We are
talking, of course, about the alto saxophone player Santi Ibarretxe, with whom
he maintains an intense bop and postbop dialogue. Just like
Edelman in Bon Voyage, Ibarretxe “Primital” stimulates the
interpretative audacity of the guitarist, acquitting himself gracefully at all
times. And
indeed, when Velasco plays slow, he’s like a poet, but when he gets going, he
is like a writer of long, fertile, well-rounded prose.

Another great thing about the album
is the vying between the double bass player Iván San Miguel and the drummer
Borja Barrueta, who are always aware of both Velasco’s vocal guitar freefall
and his lingering phrasing. Together, these two musicians form one of the best
rhythmic safety nets a leader could hope for.

The musician from Basuri has taken
almost twenty-five years to record his jazz tendencies. But the best
is yet to come.
Meanwhile, however, this album offers a feast of beautiful, daring and
meaningful music by one of today’s key guitar players.


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