CD: Robert Mitchell/ Omar Puente, Bridges


Essex-born pianist Mitchell might seem too lateral, studious and contemporary- classical a performer to hit it off with UK resident Cuban violinist Omar Puente, a musician of frequently feverish rhythmic energy with an instinct for the dancefloor. But both are musicians of sophistication, high technique, idiomatic breadth (Puente is also a former first violin with the Nacional Symphony Orquestra de Cuba) and curiosity. The chemistry of Puente's Cuban roots and Mitchell's melodic eclecticism makes an uncliched burn-up out of Chucho Valdez's Mambo Influenciado, and the violinist's rapturously romantic sound contrasts compellingly with Mitchell's child-song piano vamp on the violinist's Somebody Backstage.

Mitchell's Equinocturne and Each Bird Must Sing are dreamy solo piano pieces considerably enriched by Puente's trumpet-like bite, and Almendra is an ecstatic dance-piece. The Cuban's mixed-culture finale Swings and Roundabouts almost falters on the differences between Puente's lava-flow and Mitchell's slightly stiffer concept of rhythm, but the whole set kicks up a very big noise for two acoustic musicians.


John Fordham

The GuardianTramp

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