My number-one favorite jazz piece remains to be “Feels So Good” (1977) by Chuck Mangione
. Surprisingly, the second position has been occupied, that quickly, by the track called “El Poeta” from a newly released album, Subtitles
(2014), by the now U.S.-based Canadian-Argentinian trumpeter/artist Michael Sarian.
Not only for jazz aficionados but also for anyone who is curious enough to sample a platter of various jazz styles, Sarian’s début album covers an assortment of flavors, from the subtle, short, and simple piano-led pieces “She Said” and “In Circles”; to the unassumingly slow and contemplative yet danceable and engaging “Minga”; and to the typical, noodly yet melodically memorable indulgences of “Todo Pasa.”
The longest track, “Boker Gadol, Lailah Gadol,” is melange of light café-style jazz, Mediterranean souk-buskers’ tunes, and an onslaught of bullfight horn music. “Up, Down, Back Up Again” is appropriately titled, for its mood harks back to the roots of jazz music in the sexy and carefree swing and Big Band era of the 1930s.
However, to fans of melodic jazz that follows the tradition of Mangione’s “Feels So Good,” “El Poeta” and “La Mansa” will certainly be their instant favorites, beautiful ballads that both start off with reflective and haunting familiarity and build up into a string of melodies that ooze with instrumental emphasis, nostalgia, and childhood reminiscences.
Taken as a whole, Subtitles
may be regarded as a conceptual album whose tracks have been consciously sequenced to give the listener a smooth journey onto a textured landscape of jazz music; the opener being a perfect warmup for the early-rising listener, a steady percussive beat and simple piano chords, a preparatory piece to more jazzed-up things the album has to offer. It then closes with a mid-tempo track that will take the engaged listener to a quiet and comfortable corner in a five-star hotel lounge, sipping a glass of margarita, iced tea, or piña colada — whichever beverage feels befitting the mood of the music.
Now the circle is complete. What she said about the musical poet was true indeed.