The Jazz Writer

How about a change of pace? Enter Colette Michaan. In a genre dominated by pianos, saxophones and guitars, it’s refreshing to hear a flutist as leader. Michaan presents Incarnate Encarna (2014).

The ensemble consists of Michaan, flute, alto flute and vocals; Pablo Vergara, piano and keyboards; Reut Regev, trombone; Mireya Ramos, violin and vocals; Gregoire Maret, chromatic harmonica; Jorge Bringas, bass; Roman Diaz, bata drums, congas, bongo, shekere and vocals; Luisito Quintero, timbales, drums, wind chimes and other percussion instruments; Yusnier Sanchez Bustamante, cajon, congas, quinto and vocals; and Harvey Wright, drums.Incarnate Encarna
The title song opens the set. It’s a haunting piece with a subtle, Latin vibe. The main theme is a blending of flute, violin and trombone with plenty of support from the other instruments. Michaan stretches out in free flight. A hint of the main theme highlights the end of her solo. Maret is also featured. The pace and overall vibe can serve multiple purposes: background for a scenic drive, a score for a dramatic movie scene, or a romantic experience.

“Obatala,” adapted from Yoruban folklore, features Michaan’s voice, sharing leads with Diaz. The verses are like a tribal chant. Ramos provides background vocal. Instrumentally, this song is carried by the percussion. However, the bass comes through stronger during the piano and flute solos. After a brief return to the lyrical portion of the song, Michaan gets going again on flute. Her play sets up a dynamic finish.

Michaan’s career has covered a variety of styles, mixing Cuban son, cha cha, Latin jazz and world music. Her influences go beyond those genres, as she has experienced North and West African,R&B, Caribbean, Bayaka, Pygmy, Indian, Arab and more. She performs weekly in New York City but also travels, including dates in Senegal, Egypt and, of course, Cuba. Michaan says the title, Incarnate Encarna, is a response to the passions and pains of life. The title song is her only composition for this session.

-Woodrow Wilkins, The Jazz Writer