Siks Haedo ‘Ready To Travel’ (Plaza Mayor Company) 4/5

Siks Haedo is a project led by guitarist and composer Hispano-Argentine, Diego Lipnizky. Having relocated from Spain to Paris in 2012, the change of city and life gave rise to the formation of this wonderful sextet and the following year heralded their debut release “Influencias”. This second album takes the listener on an uplifting journey between jazz, classical and African music, but with the emphasis very much on the jazz element. The guitarist is joined by Olivier Bridot on trumpet and bugle, Carlos Mejias on alto saxophone, Francois Faure on piano, Laurent Salzard on bass, and Stéphane Adsuar on drums.The album features six compositions, all worthy of note. The opener “Dernier Train”, begins in slightly melancholic mood with a haunting bass riff, slowly joined by guitar, piano and drums, setting a gentle tone. The tune then morphs as the guitar leads us into an incredibly gorgeous melody that had the hairs standing up on the back of my neck. Wonderful harmonies between trumpet and sax are a feature throughout the recording, offering up some of the sweetest sounds I have heard this year.
Diego Lipnizky’s compositions are top notch, but it is the trumpet playing of Olivier Bridot that steels the show for me. He has a natural, instinctive way of performing that works stunningly alongside the rest of the band.

“Brian De Nice” has a welcoming groove to it, creating its own lush summer landscape as it goes. There’s a section in this track where the piano mirrors a chord progression offered up by the guitar, and the resulting feel is just so deeply rewarding. It’s moments like this that make me truly happy when listening to music.

“20 km avant l’andalousie” sings out with grace and style as the trumpet and sax once more produce lovely harmonies. Carlos Mejias takes the lead solo on alto sax with verve and skill, words I could use for so much of this recording. An innovative solo from Lipnizky ensues, with creative support from the rhythm section.

“News from Naghreb” begins with an Arabic feel as the solo bass creates an atmosphere of Middle Eastern textures and colours. A haunting bugle leads us into the tune itself, with repeating motifs cascading over progressive chord changes. The sextet work together intelligently with intuition and poise.

A jazzier, funkier tone can be heard on “Chasing Bona”, as the musicians skip and dance their way through this tune with glee. The subtle twists and turns of the composition allows the soloists the freedom to improvise whilst keeping hold of the tune itself.

The final track “Welcome to Sotolongo” represents perhaps the most straight-ahead jazz tune on the album. There’s a distinct Afro-Caribbean flavour pushing through, with fine soloing from each of the band members, bringing proceedings to a close with a memorable, lively, upbeat tempo.

“Ready to travel” is a warm, nourishing album that is rich in style and has that feel-good factor about it that just oozes class. Every tune has something delightful about it and I have found myself pressing the play button again and again on this one. Very enjoyable music indeed.

Mike Gates