Review: Alvaro Rojas – Gran Kasa

Written by on 07/31/2020

Vancouver based, Alvaro Rojas’ new album, “Gran Kasa” (released June 2020) features an all-star cast of Canadian jazz and improv musicians, as well as vocals by Grammy award winning Peruvian singer, Susana Baca.

Straightaway, Rojas sets the bar high on ‘Little Bell’, a blazing hot jazz-salsa composition featuring Meredith Bates and Peggy Lee on strings. The song is so brazenly confident, I wonder if Rojas has over bet the pot just to lure me in . . . I’m wrong.

‘I know I know’, again, literally oozes with confidence, while the congas, horns and synths give me a deeper sense of Rojas’ stylistic vision for the rest of the album.

The fiery, Miami style grooves on ‘Everybody Wins’ feel like an organic take on ambient electronica, and Susana Baca’s sultry smooth vocals on ‘Tu La Tierra’ cut through me like a hot knife through butter. I want more. 

The title track, ‘Gran Kasa’ is like funkified futuristic elevator music, which for me, is definitely not a bad thing. I’ll take this ride again any day.

Rojas surprises me by switching things up on ‘Beijing’, a song with classical undertones and a trip hop twist. It sounds and feels like a hybrid Yann Tierson meets Portishead type thing.

The album ends on a sombre but sweet note with ‘Shelter’, which is a sure fire hit.

All in all, “Gran Kasa” hits all the right notes. For fans of contemporary jazz, salsa, swing and world music, it’s definitely going to be your thing.   

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