Michael Pagán – Paganova (ENG review)

Street Date July 19th 2024
Michael Pagán - Paganova

Michael Pagán is one of the new voices of jazz in Kansas, a pianist and composer who blends a classic form of jazz, probably paying homage through his writing to the culture of his parents, who were also musicians and nurtured him from a young age with Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, and Miles Davis, as well as Beethoven. What a privilege to be culturally educated in such a way—one could almost be envious. Nevertheless, Michael Pagán remains very modern in his musical writing, making this album particularly fascinating due to the cultural mix that is evident in it, which has given him the keys to a fascinating and harmonious realization, with arrangements that an eminent classical musician would be capable of writing to make the instruments sound in such a way and give them a timeless feeling. I particularly love how the themes are developed here with the elegance of musicians David Chael and Michael Herrera on saxophones, Louie Pagán on bass, and Ray DuMarchi on drums… What a great team!

As a jazz pianist, Michael Pagán has played for over 40 years across the United States and Europe with many notable jazz musicians. The ensembles with which he has played as a soloist include the Ashland (OH) Symphony Orchestra, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra, the Northshore Concert Band, and the Denver Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra. In 2017, he was a jazz soloist with the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra and in 2019 with the Southeastern Louisiana University Jazz Ensemble. He also performed during long engagements aboard the historic Delta Queen steamboat on the Mississippi River, specializing in both old jazz and mainstream jazz. Since 2009, he has had a solo engagement every Tuesday night at Café Trio in Kansas City, MO. I invite you to read the biography of this artist which you will find on his website at the end of these few lines.

It is impossible not to take this album as a beautiful picture book of art that revisits the past, mixes it with the present, and then offers you a contemporary architecture and mastery. Michael Pagán stands here as a true magician of acoustic staging, blurring the lines, and this is undoubtedly one of the main traits of his genius—not letting the audience or the musicians rest on apparent certainties. I listened to the track “Where We Do” repeatedly without really knowing why, and then gradually things became clear: the soul of Dexter Gordon haunts this track, a way of imposing the notes without really showing it, and in this game, one can only thank the composer and the musicians, for it is great art, like the paintings of an exhibition. And no, I am not referring to Mussorgsky’s work, because here you just have to let yourself be carried by the musical proposals, let yourself dream if your heart desires. This album sounds like joy, sharing, and the acoustic aspect ensures a work that will be as impressive on stage as on this album that we place among our “Essentials,” because as you know, we are never dazzled by big effects, just by beautiful artistic intentions where honesty is the main rule.

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

PARIS-MOVE, June 30th 2024

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