Diego Rivera, Indigenous Review
By Nolan DeBuke
Diego Rivera is a composer, bandleader, and saxophonist exploring the “Indigenous” multi-cultural roots of our human family with his second release for Posi-Tone Records titled Indigenous. With a program of twelve tracks comprised of original compositions, a few covers, and a special guest appearance by trumpeter Etienne Charles, this whole session swings and shines with rewarding moments. Also on the album is pianist Helen Sung, bassist Boris Kozlov, and drummer Donald Edwards.
Kicking off the project is Cannonball Adderley’s song “Marabi.” Rivera and company attack the hard bop melody with aggression and confidence. Rivera and Charles blend to create a frontline that buzzes with excitement. Rivera digs into his solo with bop abandon as the light, and buoyant swing feel percolates from Kozlov and Edwards. His lines transverse the tenor with ease and rhythmic direction. Charles and Sung follow with powerful solo statements too.
The title track takes the quartet into the Coltrane era of harmonic and melodic relationships. Rivera’s tone is robust and flows with passion as he develops his melodic ideas. His legato lines snake through patterns and sequences as he responds with melodic gems that grab the attention from time to time. Edwards’ drum accompanying is interactive as he creates multi-layers and interest.
Indigenous marks a new level of focus, compositional flow, and performance clarity for Rivera. His celebrations of humanity through the multi-cultural music roots are evident in the project and one that rings true to the album’s energy and flow.