John Santos: Perspectiva Fragmentada & La Guerra No
Despite an impressive resumé that includes early sideman stints with Tito Puente and Peter Escovedo and bandleading credentials for his long admired Machete Ensemble, which at various times has included grand masters Alfredo "Chocolate" Amenteros, Israel Lopez "Cachao" and Armando Peraza, as well as young lions Anthony Carillo, Omar Sosa and Yosvany Terry, Bay Area multi-percussionist John Santos has received relatively little recognition in comparison to his talent and accomplishments. An esteemed educator and dedicated cultural preservationist, Santos has been a leading figure on the San Francisco Latin jazz scene for a quarter of a century, often called upon to add some sabor to the ensembles of visiting jazzmen, as well as school hometowners in AfroCuban tradition.
Santos leads his quintet of timbalero Orestes Vilató, bassist Saul Sierra, pianist Marco Diaz and flutist John Calloway on Perspectiva FragmentadaM, a guest-filled effort that exemplifies the leader's mission to expand the AfroCarribean tradition in his own musical language. While much Latin jazz eschews the Spanish vocals that are prevalent in salsa, Santos regularly employs a coro to accentuate the music's African roots, such as on the title track and "Campana La Luisa," a swinging AfroSon that augments the group with Eddie Palmierians Jose Clausell, Johnny Rivero and Nelson Gonzalez on timbales, congas and tres guitar respectively. Tito Puente alumnus Johnny Rodriquez joins the band on bongos for the descarga "Ritmatico," which also features Machete's tenorist Melecio Magdaluyo, while trumpeter Ray Vega and sonero Jerry Medina are heard on the funky bomba "No Te Hundes." A pair of danzones, the classic-styled "Chiquita" and the rumba-tized "Israel y Aristides," spotlight violinist Anthony Blea. A crew of additional percussionists on bata, bells, guiros and chekeres aid Santos in laying down the complex rhythms that make this date a fine addition not only to his own discography, but to the entire Latin jazz canon.
La Guerra No finds Santos fronting El Coro Folklórico Kindembo. As the band's name implies it is a folkloric group built around a percussion ensemble and vocal chorus with only the occasional addition of European instruments. Most of the tracks utilize traditional chants and rhythmsprimarily from the Yoruba-derived Santeria religionthat are as familiar to devotees of AfroCuban music as Beatles songs are to pop music fans. Santos takes the music one step further here, blending the deep spirituality of the songs with a political consciousness that calls for peace through music. Considering the huge following engendered by the Buena Vista Social Club, it's a bit puzzling why the US still has not equally embraced similarly stirring music by artists like Santos.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Perspectiva Fragmentada; Campana La Luisa; Ritmático; Chiquita; Consejo; Not In Our Name; Dos Esquinas; Mi Corazon Borincano; Israel Y Aristides; No Te Hundes; Mexico City Blues; Visan.
Personnel: Orestes Vilata; John Calloway; Saul Sierra; Marco Diaz; John Santos; Johnny Rodriguez; Nelson Gonzalez; "Little" Johnny Rivero; Jose Clausell; Jerry Medina; David Belove; Murray Low; Paul Van Wageningen; Muñiz; Ray Vega; Javier Navarrette; Anthony Blea; Melecio Magdaluyo; Orlando Torriente; Willie Ludwig; Bárbara Valladares; Ismael Rodriguez; Michael Lannon; Elena Pinderhughes.
La Guerra No
Tracks: Eleguá Inkio; La Guerra No; Kongosá; La Rumba Es Para Gozar; Chenche; El Tamalero; A Chichito Cepeda; Modupue Yemayá; El Anhelo De La Paz; Ella No Quiere; Vamos A La Calle; America Unida; Tambores En Lucha.
Personnel: Juan De Diós Ramos; Carlos Aldama; Orestes Vilató; Giovanni Hidalgo; Sandy Perez; Anthony Carrillo; Harold Muñiz; Roberto Borrell; Jesus Diaz; Raul Rekow; Jose Clausell; Jimmy Bosch; Elio Villafranca; Quique Dávila; Eddie Resto; Marta Galarraga; Gustavo Ovalles; David Belove; Camilo Landau; Iluminado Maldonado; Michael Spiro; Javier Navarrette; Saul Sierra; Chris Walker; Enrique Carreras; Fito Reinoso; Beatríz Godinez-Muñiz; Jose Luís Gómez; Willie Ludwig; Barbara Valladares; Ismael Rodriguez; Reynalda Nuñez; Manny Martinez; Carol Steele; Elena Pinderhughes; Samora Pinderhughes.