Exposé Online banner

Saena — Saena
(Luna Negra CDLN-37, 2008, CD)

José Luis Fernández Ledesma — Híbridos
(Musea FGBG 4738.AR, 2007, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2008-10-01

Saena Cover artHíbridos Cover art

Every new release by José Luis Fernández Ledesma seems to be like none before it, and his latest solo disc, Híbridos, is no exception. Primarily a solo venture, with singer Margarita Botello joining on most cuts (also playing accordion), with other musicians making guest appearances on various tracks, including sax and trumpet player Germán Bringas and violinist Alejandro Sánchez. The set contains a dozen pieces, typically of song length (although there are a couple 10 minute odysseys herewithin), each a vignette of sorts featuring a unique collection of instrumentation, often a mix of electric keyboards, acoustic and electric guitars, various percussives, kalimba, ethnic instruments, flutes, bells, zither, santoor, accordion, electronics, found sounds, and other surprises. The voices are provided by both Botello and JLFL, although they are mostly inspired wordless vocal excursions. Bringas’ massed trumpets and saxes provide highlights on the few tracks where he is featured. The overall sound here is very active and full of energy, yet a bit dreamy and introspective at times. Stylistically it shifts around a lot as well, but tends to remain uncategorizable throughout its duration. In some respects, it’s quite adventurous and a bit like soundtrack music in scope; comparisons with efforts like Wonderwall might even be in order, except Híbridos sounds nothing like that, instead sticking with a more homegrown ethnic vibe.

Saena, which involves JLFL as both composer and multi-instrumentalist, as well as Botello (this time handling nearly all the vocals, piano, and accordion), and Sánchez, is a full band project also featuring Stick player and bassist Hugo Santos and drummer Adrian Zarate. It is equally adventurous and imbued with a similar world-ethnic vibe, but due to the additional instrumentation and involvement of all five musicians on nearly every cut, it tends to add more of an instantaneous live groove to the proceedings, and often finds a somewhat folky sound due to the prominence of the violin and accordion. This time out, the vocals have Spanish lyrics, and the songs are bristling with live energy – and as always, the result tends to be very progressive and uncategorizable. Botello’s voice just soars skyward, captivating the imagination, becoming the focal point of the ensemble, though she leaves plenty of room for the other instrumentalists to have numerous moments in the spotlight, as well as the full band arrangements that tend to highlight the interplay between keyboards, violin, and the rhythm section. All taken, the result is beautiful and positively brilliant. Their live appearance at a major festival in Mexico City this year bodes well for this band’s future, and hopefully this self-titled disc will be the first of many to come. Both discs highly recommended.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 36, 2008 releases, 2007 releases

Related artist(s): Margarita Botello, José Luis Fernández Ledesma Q, Saena

Latest news

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Disjunkt & Awkward Star – New York and Chicago aren’t the only American cities with avant jazz scenes – Seattle has quite a bit to offer. In addition to the big names like Bill Frisell and Wayne Horvitz who have relocated...  (2001) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues