A native of Uruguay, Diego Piñera found access to his favorite instrument, the drums, already at the age of five, whose technique his parents made him learn from scratch. The drummer's trademark is the use of odd meters, the basis of jazz, which in his latest album, fittingly titled Odd Wisdom, is appropriately idiosyncratic and differs significantly from his previous album on the ACT label, which was deeply rooted in the Latin tradition and based on corresponding " well-behaved" meters. Now as Diego Piñera can position himself for the first time unhindered with his much-loved meters on an album that was recorded shortly before the first lockdown in a New York studio in say and shout a single day. This par force tour was made possible by enlisting the help of an elite group of jazz musicians from the U.S. East Coast, for whom the odd meters prescribed by the drummer posed no problem, but rather had a motivating effect. The group included saxophonist Donny McCaslin, who was a member of Gary Burton's quintet, guitarist Ben Monder, who was a member of the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, the Lee Konitz New Nonet and Paul Motian's Electric Bebop Band, and bassist Scott Colley, who has performed with musicians such as Herbie Hancock, Dizzy Gillespie, Clifford Jordan, Roy Hargrove and Art Farmer.
The album opener "Clave Tune," for example, proves to be a high-wire act of a tune. Throughout all ten tracks on the album, there is not a groove to be found that does not captivate the listener. Especially the pieces originating from Piñera with their complex polyrhythms shine with full commitment not only of the drummer, but also of his fellow musicians. "Clave Tune" surprises with constantly reinventing itself stylistically over eight minutes. "Domingo" shines with highly professional smoothness. With "Robotic Night" the listener finds himself in the electro drum sound of the eighties. With the ballad "Space", Odd Wisdom moves into pure simplicity in the form of a melody that, for all its simplicity, is deeply felt and portrayed by all the musicians on the album. And after so much ingenuity, it is no wonder that Piñera manages to give the well-known track "Blue Monk" a completely new gear thanks to a weird rhythm.
Admirably, on Odd Wisdom Diego Piñera accomplishes the feat of staking his very own claim within the framework of experimental jazz, the gold vein of which is worth mining in future albums to the delight of experimental jazz devotees.
Diego Pinera, drums
Donny McCaslin, saxophone
Ben Monder, guitar
Scott Colley, bass