I think Iago Fernandez has created something spiritual and beautiful.

Fresh Sound New Talent Records

Iago Fernandez (drums, organ, voice); Mark Turner (tenor sax); Joris Roelofs (bass clarinet); David Virelles (piano); Ben Street (double bass); Yumi Ito (voice); Wilfried Wilde (guitar); Song Yi Jeon (voice); Sam Barnett (alto sax); Kuba Dvorak (double bass)

It seems fitting that Jorge Rossy, one of the best drummers on the planet, wrote the liner notes for drummer Iago Fernandez’s new album LUZADA; his fourth as leader.

I had a hard time coming up with reference points for a lot of what I was listening to. There are nods to jazz, classical, and Brazilian folk music. But this is beautiful music that sounds completely original. This isn’t something Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers would play. This is slower, quieter, it’s mysterious, maybe even a little eerie sounding at times. All the songs, except one, were written and arranged by Fernandez.

Yumi Ito is a Japanese-Polish singer, and she sings on ‘Almas Viaxeiras.’ I couldn’t help but think about Astrud Gilberto and I mean that as a compliment. Ito has a bigger range than Gilberto, but she still has that sultry beguiling sound we enjoyed on those Getz Gilberto records way back when. Yumi Ito sings on two more; the wordless ‘Purple Light’ and ‘Flor Esvelta,’ a song sung to a flower.

I rarely hear bass clarinet on recordings, but Joris Roelofs plays that instrument a lot on LUZADA and I love it. He’s not afraid to use the whole range of his instrument. He does a couple of squawks in the lower register that I thought was a digeridoo until I realized it was a clarinet. Joris Roelofs is probably a pretty interesting guy. In his spare time he’s written philosophical papers on Nietzsche.

Mark Turner’s tenor saxophone is the perfect foil to Roelof’s bass clarinet. Turner pretty much sticks to the upper register and it sounds superb.

‘Cadeas Por Fin’ sounds the closest to traditional jazz. There’s even a bit of jazz trio with Cuban born David Virelles on piano, Ben Street on bass, and, of course, Iago Fernandez on drums. Fernandez’s playing is subdued throughout much of LUZADA but he’s a bit more aggressive on this.

‘Arrolo Da Alba’ plays like a hymn. Virelles piano starts and then duets with Roelof’s bass clarinet. Ben Street plays gorgeous bass underneath. Fernandez hits some barely audible accents on the snare. Lovely.

LUZADA translates as “light emitted by a body, either its own or reflected.” It also means “the first light of the day, when the sun rises.” This Spanish term comes from Galicia where Fernandez is from.

In 2019 Iago Fernandez said he started dealing with some childhood trauma in therapy and he regularly practices meditation. “The emotional inspiration to write LUZADA is connected to my inner healing process.”

I think Iago Fernandez has created something spiritual and beautiful. I hope he keeps finding what he’s looking for.

Reviewed by Tim Larsen