Oscar Hernández


There are a good half-dozen track titles that could lazily be plucked out as taglines for this wonderful album. It’s nothing short of a tribute to sound itself, written during the pandemic, when even musical relationships had no choice but to go virtual.

It’s full of rich rhythmic movement, colored by an unmistakable Chick Corea influence (or comradeship, rather) and it’s held together by the same singular vision that guided the earlier The Art Of Latin Jazz and its successor, Love The Moment.

This is the group Hernández calls Alma Libre. The first two albums were on Origin. This one is the sophomore release on his own Ovation imprint, and by taking full control of every aspect of music and production, he confirms how strongly unified that vision is. Hard to imagine these tunes without this band, so closely empathetic are the performances. The guest parts — particularly that of Joe Locke, who’s become the 7th Cavalry of modern jazz, riding in at just the right moment, whether to rescue or, as here, add the final shimmer to a set — are perfectly judged and don’t seem in any way tacked on or surplus.

Years of working with Ruben Blades’ Seis Del Solar, as well as with Gloria Estefan, honed Hernández’s arranging skills to a fine edge. Now they’re being put to use on his own harmonically subtle music, which, needless to say, also swings like the blazes.

On Sale Now
August 2022
Jon Batiste
Look Inside
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