CD Review: Fernando Ulibarri - Transform

Fernando Ulibarri -  Transform
(Self-released, UPC Code 884501993289. CD review by Eric Ford)

Fernando Ulibarri teaches guitar and music technology at Broward College in Miami, having previously taught at two other colleges in the city. It's interesting that his playing has absorbed many signature phrases of Miami's most recent big-time guitar export, Jonathan Kreisberg, as well as having traces of Lage Lund. Ulibarri's playing doesn't boil over like theirs can, but all members of the quartet - guitar / keys / acoustic bass (Josh Allen) and drums (John Yarling)- play beautifully on his very melodic tunes.

Ulibarri states that his writing goal is to create "songs that stand on their own, but also to establish compositional unity through the album." He has achieved this, although for my taste there's too much unity - other than two one-minute rubato interludes entitled Transform and the medium swing of the opening The Left Side, every tune is medium "straight-eighths". There's a gradual transformation throughout the 45 minutes of the cd from the warm, soothing "late night" vibe of The Left Side to hints of unease in the middle and finally some angst, but I at least would have enjoyed more variation in tempo, feel and volume to add to the harmonic gradations.

Most of the timbral variation comes from pianist Jim Gasior, who also plays Fender Rhodes and a synth on the album.

This is a really appealing CD, which I wanted to find more diverting given the quality of the players and the fact that they form a working unit.

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