Trumpeter Aquiles Navarro and drummer Tcheser Holmes demonstrate their powerful synchronicity | Music Review | Chicago Reader

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Trumpeter Aquiles Navarro and drummer Tcheser Holmes demonstrate their powerful synchronicity


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Trumpeter Aquiles Navarro and drummer Tcheser Holmes begin their new duo album, Heritage of the Invisible II (International Anthem), with “Initial Meditation,” a red-hot vortex of percussion and electronics whose abrasive, hypnotizing swirls sometimes sound like a helicopter flying overhead. That powerful opening statement makes clear that these musicians—best known from unrepentantly political jazz ensemble Irreversible Entanglements—can sound just as colossal as a duo as they do with that five-piece band. Navarro and Holmes first clicked when they met at the New England Conservatory in 2008, and throughout Heritage of the Invisible II you can feel how deep their bond runs; they speak gratefully of each other on “Plantains,” and the synchronicity of their playing tells us more than words ever could. On that track, Holmes’s tight, unyielding drumming projects a relentlessly explorative mindset that pairs well with Navarro’s reverberating trumpet declarations. The musicians constantly push each other forward on songs such as “Navarroholmes,” a boisterous eight-minute romp bristling with palpable, unresolved tension. But Navarro and Holmes do more than just display their iron-sharpening-iron artistry: they’re forever celebrating their partnership and their cultures. That’s most evident in the Afro-Caribbean rhythms and humid atmospheres of “Pueblo,” a contemplative, cheerful piece that allows for the kind of inward-looking reflection that can build confidence and hope. Music this rich and festive is innately communal, and Navarro and Holmes bring in four guest artists, including vocalist Brigitte Zozula and pianist Nick Sanders, to broaden the scope of their arrangements. Heritage of the Invisible II is a reminder that the simple act of having fun can spur individual and collective growth.   v

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