Marlon Simon & The Nagual Spirits – On Different Paths (ENG review)

Truth Revolution Records - Street date January 26th 2024
Marlon Simon and The Nagual Spirits – On Different Paths

The journey of this composer and drummer extends from Venezuela, his native country, to the city of New York, and finally, he is now a neighbor in Katy, Texas. Despite being close, we haven’t had the opportunity to meet him at Bayou Blue Radio. Throughout his career, Marlon has enriched himself through collaborations with various artists. He has played classical swing with pianist Hilton Ruiz, traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms with the Fort Apache Band and Chucho Valdes, Latin jazz grooves with Dave Valentin, and progressive jazz propulsion with Bobby Watson.
“On Different Paths” is Marlon Simon’s seventh album, and once again, it is a grandiose work, almost a symphony/jazz fusion. As a drummer and composer, Marlon delves into the depths of his musical education, and one can clearly see the influences of classical music, which seem to be the foundation of his art, overlaying his Venezuelan and American cultural background for the jazz aspect. For example, the dynamic titular track blends elements of Venezuelan joropo, Brazilian samba, and Cuban rhythms in 6/8 within the complex interplay of drums and congas underpinning modern jazz harmonies with a forward-looking perspective. It’s a revitalizing sound reminiscent of an engaging solo performance by Edward Simon, but the rich tapestry of intercultural sounds is both philosophically and musically motivated.
Marlon Simon provides some insights into what inspired this new album: “The isolation we all went through during the pandemic led me to contemplate a different way of living,” explains Simon in a somber tone, with recent shootings in his adopted Texas city weighing heavily on his mind. “In addition to Covid, we were witnessing so much violence, with racism, police brutality, and mass shootings. I wanted to express through this music that we really need to find a different path as a society.”
Here, Simon touches upon the current questioning faced by intellectuals worldwide—a society that, for most European countries, has already leaned towards the far right, as seen in Europe at the moment. There is also the fear in the USA of the return of Trump, who aligns with this trend. Can music act as a bulwark against extremism? Certainly not on its own; it requires intellectuals to wake up, but it’s a good start.
“On Different Paths” is an important, essential album that, beyond its cultural inspirations, serves as a note of hope, a form of renewal, a ray of sunshine in the heart of a winter that greatly needs it. Without hesitation, the editorial teams of Bayou Blue Radio and Paris Move have placed this album in the stack of “Essentials.”

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, January 12th 2024


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