My first listen of violinist Gregor Huebner Los Sonadores was a special sonic treat, if only for the reason that I had just set up the EgglestonWorks Emma EVO loudspeakers and the Luxman LX-380 integrated amplifier and this was one of the first CDs I played. The Emma EVOs and the LX-380, which will both be featured in an upcoming issue of The Occasional, are a particularly gorgeous combo and I wound up falling in love with the sound–something I consider remarkable because both products are relatively affordable. Plus, Los Sonadores features something I haven’t heard before, or something I’ve heard before but haven’t noticed, which is Latin jazz that’s led by a violin. Huebner’s violin seems like such a natural and gifted messenger, bringing just a touch of the tango to all of the proceedings, so this is an exciting and unique recording.
Well, of course it is–it’s yet another release from Zoho Music. I featured this label, which lately has been focusing on South American musicians, in The Deep End column Zoho Rising. Since that article appeared I’ve received even more of their CDs, and there hasn’t been a dud in the bunch. When I first played Gregor Huebner’s Los Sonadores–which is subtitled El Violin Latino Vol. 3–on my newly revamped review system, all I could think was “beautiful.” This is such a rich and warm recording, with deep full bass that tickles your butt and slaps your chest. Los Sonadores translates into “the dreamers,” and this music is almost dreamlike in its melodic grace and its ability to take you away, like Calgon, into a world where storytelling is still held in the highest regard. In other words, not here, wherever that is for you.
Surprisingly, Gregor Huebner has imbued this music with a political consciousness, especially when it comes to the issue of immigration. The title track, for instance, features the lyrics “We left the shadows behind us. We should never go back. My heart and my mind are screaming–let me learn, let me grow, let me be!” So many of these tunes are design to confront xenophobia, and that awful idea that “not the best people” are coming to America for a better life–“Para un Mejor Mundo,” “South Sudan” and “Tu, Mi Delirio,” are all devoted to different aspects of the journey across borders. Aside from his original compositions, Huebner also adapts many jazz classics such as John Coltrane‘s “Equinox” into stories of diaspora and how these migrations can enrich the world, not weaken it.
Gregor Huebner’s musical instincts gravitate toward Cuban traditions, especial when it comes to the rhythms. Perhaps that’s why it’s fascinating to learn that the violinist identifies as German-American, which reinforces the idea that we all need to act together to allow people to find their “happy places,” so to speak, and to not stand in the way of another human being’s happiness. Wrapping these important ideas in a simply gorgeous blanket of music isn’t novel, nor is featuring the violin as a vital instrument in the Latin jazz canon, but the way Los Sonadores comes together and delivers such a complete vision is rare.