Music as Belief: review of the album El Templo de las Ideas, by the Pagliuca-Mena Sextet

There are many ways to create an identity, just as there are many ways to relate to the divine. I dare say that El Templo de las Ideas, produced by the Pagliuca-Mena Sexteto, one of many formations led by the Italian-Venezuelan brothers Silvano and Angelo Pagliuca-Mena, manages to achieve both purposes.

It is, at the same time, a celebration of the exuberant Latin identity in its diversity, and an invitation to introspection, to the act of listening, of paying attention to the multiple details of this impeccable production. Those who accept the challenge are treated to an almost mystical experience of transcendence. An affective journey through the left behind but never forgotten hometown Maracaibo.

Although the tracks of El Templo de de las Ideas are scattered across my many playlists, it has been a while since I have listened to the full album, and the first thing I realize is that El Templo de las Ideas is capable of surprising the listener over and over again.

Ahora o Nunca (Now or Never), the opening track, revealed to me something Brazilian in its introduction, which would not be a surprise, since Silvano is a deep connoisseur of Jobim and João Gilberto, among others.

In Yara, the following track, Silvano welcomes the listener with his piano, opening the curtains for the powerful trio formed by Eduardo Vega (tenor sax), Luis Alfredo Zambrano (trumpet) and Nelson Pacheco (trombone). The precise conductin of Angelo on the drums with the elegant support of Alberto Mora (bass) ensures a calculated high-risk, high-impact performance.

Caribay y las Cinco Ágilas Blancas (Caribay and the Five White Eagles) is the most cinematic of all tracks. Once again Vega, Zambrano and Pacheco are present in total harmony, creating a dense and hypnotic noir atmosphere.

In Aura, the next track, the smoke dissipates completely and it is Silvano’s to run wild. One of my very favourite parts is the lively dialogue with Mora, followed by an amazing solo by Angelo. Also noteworthy are the paticipations of Gregory Boza on trombone and Francisco Arteaga De Pool on tenor sax.

Maracaibo Mía (My maracaibo) is a declaration of love announced by Vega, Zambrano and Pacheco who return for passionate performances, in a true ode to their homeland. From the clash between the “real” and the “dream” city, a very personal sound portrait of Maracaibo emerges, which is presented there in all its nuances, from those present in the chaotic Latin American reality to the affective ones.

Closing the album is Guasa Influenciada and its rising melodic lines (the lind that quickly stick in the memory). The track offers an expansive, immersive vision of Latin American rhythms, leading to a frenetic jam, marking the bridge from Maracaibo to the world of the best of current jazz.

Be seeing you!


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