“The idea of things and persons finding their space in another place without losing their identity serves here as the metaphor of my own way of finding a musical language that would honor my roots, my instinct, my education and all the beautiful things I have learned from other artists in my personal trip…”
The quote above serves as a mission statement for the singular musician Cristina Pato and her musical quest to develop a personal style and concept. Pato plays both gaita (Galician bagpipe) and piano, two very different instruments requiring a diverse knowledge of both folkloric and institutional classical musical forms. The task that she has taken on has been to create a working synthesis between the two.
Pato’s new release Migrations (Sunnyside, Jan. 2013) showcases an intriguing amalgamation of styles from the music of her native northern Spanish roots to jazz, world and classical sources.
The project’s inception in 2004 occurred when Pato relocated to New York to continue her doctoral studies at Rutgers University. Coincidental meetings between her and composer Osvaldo Golijov and accordionist Victor Prieto - the former introducing concepts connecting traditional and contemporary music and the latter promoting a freedom in concept in jazz that allowed for the inclusion of her Galician identity - made a tremendous impact on Pato and her music.
Pato’s music bloomed as she began to collaborate with different eclectic ensembles such as Yo Yo Ma’s The Silk Road Ensemble and Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. With her new ensemble and a new musical concept, Pato has created a unique and personal musical style that echoes her roots and the sounds of her new home, the creative melting pot of New York City.
The core ensemble that Pato put together includes her Spanish friend, accordionist Victor Prieto along with bassist Edward Perez and drummer Eric Doob. A number of guests are featured on some of the tracks, including harpist Edmar Castañeda and percussionist John Hadfield. Producer Emilio Solla assisted Pato tremendously on Migrations, adding compositions and arrangements to the program.
The recording begins with Solla’s arrangement of Prieto’s “Muiñeira for Cristina,” a dancing performance featuring Pato’s expressive gaita along with Castañeda’s striking harp work. “Muiñeira de Carmen” follows with a plaintive accordion melody and Pato on piano, playing stately and melancholic. Miles Davis’s “Blue In Green” is Pato’s second interpretation of the trumpeter’s music (the first being Bob Belden’s Miles Español project) with a lilting reading. Jobim and Oliveira’s “Dindi” presents Pato’s affecting vocals lighting up this Brazilian evergreen.
“Gaitango” is a riveting attempt in uniting the gaita with tango. “Jota de Pontevedra” is a traditional song performed frequently by Galician musicians, appearing here in a spare, haunting arrangement. The introspective “Rosiña” is a lovely ballad featuring Pato on flute and vocals alongside Xan Padrón on bouzouki. “Remain Alert” is a startling, uptempo piece featuring tabla player Sandeep Das. “Pandeirada Bestia” is another traditional song featuring the Galician pandeireta (a Galician percussion instrument) with invigorating results. The disc closes with “Mala Entraña Ou / O Pasodobre de Paderne,” another standard composition which had been transformed into a hit recording by Rachel Meyer in 1934. Here Pato is accompanied by the great gaiteiro Suso Vaamonde in a spirited exchange.
The music on Migrations is a fascinating listen, which provides a new and unique take on traditional meeting contemporary musical style. Pato’s interpretive voice on both gaita and piano make the music of her native Galicia and jazz standards sound wholly individual and captivating.
released January 15, 2013
Cristina Pato - gaita, piano, flute, vocals, pandeireta
Victor Prieto - accordion
Edward Perez - double bass
Eric Doob - drums
Emilio Solla - arrangements, piano (5)
Edmar Castañeda - harp (1)
John Hadfield - percussion (1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9)
Colin Jacobsen - violin (4, 6)
Sandeep Das - tabla (6)
Xan Padrón - bouzouki
Mike Block - cello (4, 8)
Roberto Comesaña - accordion (10)
Suso Vaamonde - gaita (10)