In a moving and electrifying performance, the Edmar Castaneda Trio mesmerized a sold-out audience at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery Art of Jazz Series. Joined by David Sillman on drums/percussion and Shlomi Cohen on soprano sax, the trio brought the audience to its feet for a closing rousing standing ovation.
With much intrigue, the audience waited with bated breath to hear what a jazz harp actually sounds like in a live performance. It was worth the wait. There is a realm of exotic beauty that emanates from the lush flow of musical notes that come from the harp. Offering a range of limitless possibilities in jazz improvisation. Castaneda, playing the specially built EC Lianera Harp, left none of the 35 strings untouched as he blended the sounds of his Columbian South American roots with the depth of jazz.
Accentuating such a blend was the transcending sounds of Cohen’s soprano sax. Cohen, a native of Tel-Aviv, added a unique third ingredient to the music. A middle eastern sound that blended with South American and jazz to create a riveting intensity. Sillman showed amazing dexterity in the use of drums and percussion instruments to establish an intoxicating rhythmic feel to the evening. Making use of a Cajon, shakers, Chinese cymbals, clappers, and more to fill the space with unique sounds.
Castaneda is evidentially a deeply spiritual and family-oriented man. His music purposely conveying messages from his homeland and about love. One stunning virtuoso performance embodied the essence of Castaneda’s groundbreaking musicality in jazz. His solo of his composition “Jesus de Nazareth” puts all of his abilities and intent on display. A true moment of faith and love shared. Here is a video of Castaneda solo performance of this song at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam:
Castaneda truly does become one with the harp. All of his body movements move in synch with the harp. A marvelous sight to see.
To give you a sense of this man and artist, after the concert had long ended, he spent time with a young girl from Olean, NY. A harp student. Edmar let her play his harp and guided her through the iconic church song, “How Great Thou Art.” At that moment, a trinity of music, faith, and love was on display.
A beautiful closing to a series season that explored boundaries and brought to Buffalo Sullivan Fortner, Joe Lovano, Carla Bley, and Edmar Castaneda. We can be assured that each artist left with attesting the love for jazz Buffalo possesses.