Oscar Peñas - Chicken or Pasta - Musikoz

Coming on the heels of 2022’s Almadraba, his deeply evocative suite drawing on Andalusian culture and brimming with Iberian, classical, and flamenco flavors, Oscar Peñas’ latest finds him returning to his jazz roots. Once again accompanied by 6-string electric bassist Moto Fukushima and drummer Richie Barshay, his regular rhythm tandem for the past 14 years, and violinist Sara Caswell, a member of his working quartet since 2013, the Catalan-American guitarist-composer is also joined by two special guests — guitarist Mike Stern and pedal steel guitar ace Greg Leisz — who help elevate the proceedings on  Chicken or Pasta, Peñas’ sixth recording as a leader. “My last project was more involved in terms of composition,” he said of Almadraba. “I arranged everything for a string quartet. Now it’s back to the lead sheet format and minimal arrangements where the idea is, ‘Let’s just play and have some fun.’” You get that sense of fun right out of the gate with the swinging title track. Peñas introduces his warm-toned guitar signature in tight unisons on the buoyant head with violinist Caswell, who swings in a giddy, syncopated Stuff Smith mode on her solo. Oscar’s fluid legato solo over the relaxed midtempo 4/4 pulse laid down by Fukushima and Barshay is melodic and tasty in a Jim Hall vein.