Carlos Niño & Friends | (I’m just) Chillin’, on Fire

While the album compiles live and studio arrangements recorded in places like Venice, Leimert Park and Woodstock over the past three years, it feels harmonious, as if captured in one space with all musicians present. This highlights Niño’s ability as a conductor and producer. That he could winnow such vast experimentation into a seamless set is a worthy feat on its own. Much like Niño’s other LPs, (I’m just) Chillin’ is an immersive listen that requires attentive ears to fully absorb. In a world dominated by social media and the 24-hour news cycle, it seems we’re all in a hurry for no reason in particular. By creating music with tender messages and leisurely pacing, Niño nudges listeners to slow down and appreciate life’s natural wonders, to savor the journey and not rush so quickly to the destination. In turn, his art conjures pastoral images — endless fields, boundless oceans, ripples crashing along the shoreline. It urges you to simply look up: notice the wind rustling through the trees, listen to the birds sing a glorious song. This is real life, the stuff you can’t quite capture with a smartphone camera. As a conduit, Niño embodies the water he cherishes so deeply. He’s not just the bandleader, but a vessel for everyone’s ideas to shine through.

“Creativity, to me, is an expression of a being’s state, and their states of being,” he says. “It’s really reflecting or reporting how they feel. The deeper ‘why’ is what I’m getting to with all this, what is inside that feeling, and it’s not uncharted territory. I’m one of these people who’s very into organizing, curating and offering; it’s a deeply sharing kind of thing. It’s a living thing; it grows. Sometimes it gets sculpted. Sometimes it gets rocked by forces outside of its maneuvering. Sometimes it looks one way. Sometimes it looks another way, but it’s alive.”


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