Finally, someone who has a Taj Mahal-ish sense of things! Even better, Gaby Velazquez dwells in the upper register and emotional stratosphere of Mahal's oeuvre, though I catch some Milton Nasciamento, David Wilcox, and Paul Simon as well. This is folk music heavily informed by Middle- and South American rhythms, sonorities, and styles but quite well adapted to the Euro-American fundament, post 60s. Born in Puerto Rico but based in San Francisco, Velazquez has absorbed two (or three or four or…) cultures marrow deep, achieving a fusion that's extremely gratifying and in no small measure deeply abetted by a superb backing unit, gentlemen operating like another multiplex set of Velazquez's own hands.
This gent possesses a bit of an unusual voice, an asset I'm forever on the lookout for, a tone that kinda blends Al Stewart, Kevin Coyne, and a third singer I can't quite lay my finger on. His lap steel guitarist Dan Lebowitz reminds me of an obscure-but-marvelous axeman of the 70s: Jimmy Berick of Masters of the Airwaves, a guy who also favored reggae-tinged compositions (and, though Berick was Lep Zeppelinily inclined, Velazquez isn't, not in any sense). Gaby and Lebowitz maintain an up-front air that catches the ear quickly, colored by Colin Hoops' keys, Mark Calderon's slippery and arresting basswork, and Inx Herman's supple skins, a guy who really knows how to fit percussion into the mix in absolute perfection.
This is a tight unit drawn from band and session work for significant figures (the Fugees, Paul Simon, etc.) and captured by Oz Fritz, an eclectic cat who's engineered Tom Waits, Les Claypool, and Trey Anastasio (a trifecta), individuals well-famed for their resistance to normalcy. Gaby Velazquez, then, is right up his alley, and Let Me In stands as a logical next-in-line, a guy and a music deserving exposure for unorthodox merits.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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