Release date: 9/27/2019

Meaning “enchantment,” or “wonderment” in Spanish, ENCANTO is inspired by the charango, a South American stringed instrument historically used for prayer and expressions of gratitude and healing. “Playing it is like exploring a labyrinth of wonders,” says Cantor, whose fascination with the charango was immediate, from its unconventional tuning – which opened new, unconventional compositional doors for Cantor – to its uses in sound healing and “hypnotherapy,” which resonated with Cantor’s practices in yoga, meditation and spirituality.

Cantor soon wondered how the charango – an instrument not widely played, or even known in the United States – would sound and function in her own musical world of chamber-jazz. ENCANTO is a seamless bridge between the simple and sacred song tradition of the charango in Latin America, and the complex, and meticulously composed tradition of chamber music in the West. Helping Cantor realize this musical melding is a cast of some of the West Coast’s best instrumentalists and improvisers: Ben Goldberg on clarinet; Rob Reich on accordion; Todd Sickafoose on bass; Scott Amendola on drums; and Cantor leading the way on charango and voice.

“After learning a few basic charango techniques, I found myself in trances repeating patterns that were so endlessly interesting to me that sometimes, I wouldn’t stop for hours on the same idea,” related Cantor. Out of these trances emerged the compositions herein, which Cantor calls “music that can be listened to without understanding it, yet sophisticated enough to be stimulating to a curious mind.” The track listing flows as organically as the songs – from “Opening, Pt. II,” (simple patterns Cantor often warmed up with), to the more exploratory and complex compositions such as “Yeshowah” and “Epic of Play,” before concluding with softer and simpler picking patterns as in “As Above.” From beginning to end, ENCANTO is a complete listening experience. Through her own efforts to find peace and healing through music, Cantor has gifted the listener the same.

Ila Cantor: charango, acoustic guitar, voice, composition
Ben Goldberg: clarinet
Rob Reich: accordion, glockenspiel
Todd Sickafoose: upright bass
Scott Amendola: drums, percussion
Lauren Arrow: background vocals (Yeshowah)
Phil Lewis: guitar (Crescent, Opening: Part II)

Recorded March 2018 at Fantasy Studios Berkeley, CA and Maginus Media Novato, CA
Mixed at Fantasy Studios Berkeley, CA
Engineered by Adam Munoz, Phil Lewis
Mixed by Adam Munoz, Phil Lewis, Ila Cantor
Mastered by Michael Romanowski at Coast Mastering Berkeley, CA
Produced by Phil Lewis for The Maginus Project*
Executive Producer: Phil Lewis

Beth Beauchamp