Susie Ibarra

As a female jazz percussionist and bandleader, Susie Ibarra remains a rarity in the male-dominated world of jazz instrumentalists. Raised in Houston’s small Filipino community, Ibarra found the strength to overcome inequities and used that determination to become a fixture in New York’s Downtown jazz scene. The propulsive fury displayed in her stint with the David S. Ware Quartet dispelled even the most gender-biased doubters, yet Ibarra’s own work finds a spatial and introspective tone. Flower After Flower has as much in common with modern composition as it does with avant-garde jazz, and the balance forms a work of striking beauty. The supporting cast is equally remarkable: Wadada Leo Smith’s trumpet finds an almost spiritual muse, and Cooper-Moore’s brittle piano work follows suit. Clarinetists Chris Speed and Assif Tsahar weave with Ibarra to complement the “deep listening” techniques of accordionist Pauline Oliveros. And while Ibarra gives herself plenty of solo time, she eschews the showboating that usually mars drummer-led ensembles. Given the room to breathe, her music is all the richer for it.

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