By Raul da Gama
To listen to the voice of The Dreamers struggling against a manic administration in the 2019 White House is not too much to ask for and not surprisingly Gregor Huebner makes a strong case for it in his profoundly beautiful and thought-provoking set of songs on Los Soñadores which is Spanish for “The Dreamers” as it turns out. Mr Huebner’s third installment of his El Violin Latino project is probably not a culmination of his journey through the seductive Afro-Cuban sojourn that he finds himself in, but it certainly puts him at the pinnacle of his achievements both as a violinist and a composer; one that finds him completely subsumed by the Afro-Cuban idiom. In fact, if you were in a blindfold test you would probably not be able to tell whether this was an Afro-Cuban violinist playing his music and that is saying much about the authenticity and sophistication of this repertoire.
The fact that Mr Huebner’s Germanic sensibility may have something to do with this “authenticity” and “sophistication” is key. He thrives in a culture that prides itself in the thoroughness with which it conducts study, going deep; penetrating deep beneath the skin of whatever it is he is studying so that he can not only become an expert (he is already a virtuoso violinist), but absorbing the culture so completely and penetrating the African code that is clave so that he appears to belong to the mighty pantheon of (in this case) the Afro-Cubans. It bears mention that he is joined on this journey by another German, Klaus Mueller on piano, who has given a fine account of himself here as well as on innumerable Afro-Brasilian musical projects too.
Therefore one must note that Mr Huebner not only does poetic justice to the repertoire on this disc composed by South Americans, but he has composed some fine repertoire himself and it is presented in all its glory on Los Soñadores. You get the measure of the majesty of this music right out of the gates; in a masterful Afro-Cuban interpretation of John Coltrane’s “Equinox”. This is followed by “Obsesión” and here Mr Huebner brings the seductive vocalist Yumarya on board to deliver the lyric. Miss Yumarya is an artist of the first order. Her voice springs from a place that is pristine and magical. The poetry of the lyrics becomes almost palpable; just as it is in the first of the extraordinary compositions by Mr Huebner – “Los Soñadores”, the credit for which also goes to Miss Yumarya, who sings delightfully in English too.
The performance of this repertoire is absolutely masterful and we hear the joy with which it is received by Mr Huebner himself shortly after the take of his meditative tribute to the people of “South Sudan”. And if you think that it couldn’t get any better, you have to brace yourself for the miraculously conceived and executed (Mr Huebner) composition “Yoruban Fantasy”. The crowning glory, however, could well be “Buey Viejo” which features a recitation by the legendary Cuban poet, Mappy Torres. This is a flawless production which not only reiterates that Mr Huebner is a prodigious musician with a tremendous capacity for composition and a humanist worldview. One can hardly hold one’s breath for what is to come next from the man who calls himself “El Violin Latino”.
Track list – 1: Equinox; 2: Obsesión; 3: Los Soñadores; 4: Cuban Blues; 5: Para Un Mejor Mundo; 6: Zapato Apretao; 7: Llanto De Luna; 8: South Sudan; 9: Tu, Mi Delirio; 10: Yoruban Fantasy; 11: Buey Viejo
Personnel – Gregor Huebner: electric and acoustic violin, octave violin and vocals; Yumarya: voice; Klaus Mueller: piano; John Benitez: bass; Louie Bauzo: congas, bongo, quinto and caja; Jerome Goldschmidt: congas, batá, cachimbo and vocals; Ludwig Afonso: drums; Edmar Castañeda: harp (5); Karen Joseph: flute (6, 7, 11); Ruben Rodriguez: bass (6, 7, 11); Johnny Almendra: timbales (6, 7, 11); Mappy Torres: vocals (11)
Released – 2019
Label – ZOHO Music (ZM201901)