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digital album releases January 22, 2021
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The Truth Revolution Recording Collective is proud to announce the release of Flash of the Spirit, a new album from bassist, guitarist, and composer Santi Debriano. Flash of the Spirit will be available on January 22, 2021 in CD and digital format via Truth Revolution Records.
Much like his native Panama, which straddles the continental divide and facilitates the union of Pacific and Atlantic, Santi Debriano has become comfortable occupying several worlds at once. But, like the Panama Canal, it’s taken some work—extracurricular work, in Debriano’s case. As an ethnomusicology graduate student at Wesleyan University Debriano read Robert Farris Thompson’s Flash of the Spirit. For Debriano, a Black Panamanian American who’d grown up in New York City after his family emigrated from Panama when he was four, Thompson’s book proved revelatory, asking questions like: To what extent have African traditions and customs been retained by contemporary Black cultures throughout the Americas? “That book describes my ancestral struggle to stay present in the many worlds I live in,” says Debriano, “but also to never forget where I came from.”
It’s a tight rope that Debriano walks, but on his version of Flash of the Spirit, the always intellectually curious bandleader strikes the balance of a Wallenda in his prime. And he’s got plenty of help; his rhythm section’s rounded out by drummer Tommy Campbell, whom Debriano’s known since both were college students in Boston, playing in Stan Strickland’s band, Sundance, and pianist Bill O’Connell, who, like Debriano, performs with consummate fluency regardless of whether the gig’s led by Sonny Rollins or Mongo Santamaria. A small but powerful woodwind section includes alto saxophonist Justin Robinson and flutist Andrea Brachfeld. And complimenting the core quintet are Francisco Mela, a Cuban-born, raised and educated drummer known for collaborations with saxophonist Joe Lovano and pianist Chucho Valdés, Brazilian percussionist Valtinho Anastacio, a veteran of the genre-defying, Debriano-led ensemble Circlechant, and Tim Porter, an indispensable scholar and practitioner of the contemporary jazz mandolin.
There’s a lot here. It’s easy to get distracted—and understandable, because everything that does glitter here is, indeed, gold, from a listening standpoint. Between the reimagined— and sometimes totally reinvented— takes on tunes from Kenny Barron, Kenny Dorham, and Ornette Coleman, as well Debriano’s solo bass take on a standard popularized by Billie Holiday, the temptation might be to overlook Flash of the Spirit’s original compositions; doing so would be a mistake.