Jazz has a long history of embracing new sounds—from Yusef Lateef’s Chinese flute to Sun Ra’s use of the theremin. So the jazz harp, made famous by Alice Coltrane, is comparatively standard fare. But no one has played the harp with the virtuosity of Colombia’s Edmar Castañeda.
A frequent collaborator with Pacquito D’Rivera, Castaneda plays an intricate, fascinating music that draws on South American sounds and the improvisational language of jazz. He crafts almost unbelievable feats of cross-rhythms, layered with chordal nuances rivaling the most celebrated flamenco guitarists’ efforts.