By Bob Doerschuk | Published August 2018
The Grand Course is a tour de force. As writer, arranger, pianist, leader and guiding spirit of this sensational project, Dayramir Gonzalez exhibits complete command.
Most of the uptempo tracks balance complexity and momentum, feeding, rather than making things harder, for each other. It begins with “Smiling,” the perfect opener. Gonzalez states the theme at the top, dancing nimbly through myriad meters. The horns punch key points in the rhythm, punctuated by brief solo drum moments. The writing and playing are breathtaking. Three works stand out as homages to love. Each begin with Gonzalez, playing with a reflective blues touch in memory of his late brother Daymell on “Blood Brothers” and with nuance on “Lovely Time With My Dear.” String sections join in on both; they complement his concept, but leave the listener wishing the bandleader might perform alone—a wish that he fulfills on the lovely “Hand And Hand, You And I.”
Special mention must be made of the photography and quotations accompanying each song in the liner notes. These words come from Gandhi, Lao Tzu, Brahms, Victor Hugo—a stellar assembly, as are those few young jazz artists who might qualify as Gonzalez’s peers.
The Grand Concourse: Smiling; Moving Forward; Sencillez; Iyesa Con Miel; Blood Brothers; Camello Tropical; Lovely Time With My Dear; Linear Patterns In Havana; Two Makes The Difference; West Coast Exchange; Hand And Hand, You And I; Situaciones en 12/8. (71:53)
Personnel: Dayramir Gonzalez, piano, Fender Rhodes, synthesizer; Antoine Katz, Alberto Miranda, electric bass; Carlos Mena, Zwelakhe-Duma Bell Le Pere, acoustic bass; Zack Mullings, Keisel Jimenez Leyva, Jay Sawer, Willy Rodriguez, Raul Pineda, David Rivera, drums; Paulo Stagnaro, congas, batá drums, surdo, cajon, guiro, pandeiro; Mauricio Herrera, congas; Mauricio Herrera, batá drums; Yosvany Terri, surdo, cajon, guiro, pandeiro; Marcos Lopez, timbal, congas; Harvis Cuni, trumpet; Oriente Lopez, Kalani Trinidad, flute; Yosvany Terri, alto saxophone, surdo, cajon, guiro, pandeiro; Rio Konishi, alto saxophone; Dean Tsur, alto, tenor saxophone; Edmar Colon, tenor saxophone; Ameya Kalamdani, guitars; Ilmar Lopez Gavilan, Audrey Defreytas Hayes, violin; Tatiana Ferrer, viola, vocals; Jennifer Vincent, cello; Caris Visentin Liebman, oboe; Amparo Edo Biol, French horn; Pedrito Martinez, vocals, batá drums; Gregorio Vento, surdo, cajon, guiro, pandeiro; Nadia Washington, Jaclyn Sanchez, vocals.