"Duende" by Alvaro Is Rojas is a reminder of the European origin of the people behind what we know today as "Latin" music. While Latin music itself is a Pan-American phenomenon, a part of its origin lies in Spain and Portugal, whose folk music still has resemblance to most non-swing type grooves in jazz.
Duende refers to the Spanish term used in performing arts, especially Flamenco. The meaning of duende as in tener duende (having duende or "having soul") is a rarely-explained - yet recognizable - concept or feeling, having to do with emotion, expression and authenticity. El duende is the spirit of evocation. It comes from inside as physical and emotional response. It is what gives you chills, makes you smile or cry as a bodily reaction to an artistic performance that is particularly expressive. It is thus as universal in its meaning as it is immensely personal and culturally contextual by its nature. It is this tradition, combined with Spanish classical music, which pianist Alvaro Is Rojas has brought into the world of improvised music. On his third album for Blue Music Group, he has found a colorful, yet deep and soulful, form of expression. He improvises freely on jazz standards, but often diverts to his roots in his strong mood-setting introductions and imaginative solos. Additionally, Rojas' original compositions, La Elección, the title track Duende, and most of all Global Misery, demonstrate his background at its strongest. It is this sound which has caught the attention of many pianists - such as Chick Corea - when searching for original and progressive Spanish folk moods.