Pablo Menendez & Mezcla: I'll See You In Cuba (2010)
Guitarist/vocalist Pablo Menéndez makes a two-pronged point with the title of this CD. He alludes to what could happen if visitors from the United States were permitted to travel to Cuba, and adds a slight twist on the Irving Berlin's "I'll See You in C.U.B.A.," which he sings with zest and verve. Menéndez brings in a blend of several genres in his schematic vision on I'll See You In Cuba and, along with his band Mezcla, consistently captures and develops it eloquently.
The band hits the right note as Orlando Sanchez's tenor saxophone fuels across free territory on "Big Brecker," a tribute to Michael Brecker, before it coalesces into a songo rhythm. The latter parameter, while pertinent to the overall ambience, is fluid as Sanchez fires heady bop lines that are countenanced by the fiery journey of Máyquel González's trumpet: tt is the perfect synthesis of styles.
Menéndez signals "Chicoy's Blues" with a heavy blues sound. He is a guitarist who transcends boundaries, finding his comfort zone in many styles. Here he opens out and goes into a rock mode, giving the melody a strong, instinctive presence. More, his innovations are earthy and harmonically rich. Sanchez and González are important parts of the theme, with the rhythm section of Ernesto Hermida and Oliver Valdes underscoring the punch.
"'Round Midnight" is given a sinuous body on guitar, with percussion enhancing the rhythm and adding to the entrancement. Menéndez holds sway filing the tune with germane improvisation that includes adding a Spanish tinge. It all swings into happy land with Spanish vocals adding the icing to this very imaginative concept.
"Oslo" has several tributaries flowing into the stream from the distortion of the guitar to the soft shaded lines of Migela Herrera's flute. She injects a remarkable beauty into her playing, yet she does not shy from getting into a deeper groove without losing her sense of balance.
With each musician a creative factor, a constant progression of sound and ideas amalgamate into a dynamic presence.
Track Listing: Big Brecker; ¿Quién tiene Ritmo?; El Médico de Los Pianos; I'll See You in C.U.B.A.; Chicoy's Blues; Oslo; Chucho's Blues; 'Round Midnight; Homenaje a Afro Cuba; Chicoy's "Son."
Personnel: Pablo Menéndez: guitar, vocals, director: Magela Herrera: flute, vocals, piano (1, 4, 8); Máyquel González: trumpet, flugelhorn; Octavio Rodriguez: percussion; Orlando Sánchez: tenor sax, piano (1, 5, 6, 7); Néstor Rodriguez: tenor sax (3, 9); Ruy Adrián López-Nussa: drums (1, 3, 6); Oliver Valdés: drums (5, 7); Renier Mendoza: drums (4, 8, 9); Ernesto Hermida: bass (1, 2, 3, 5, 7); José Hermida: bass (4, 6, 8, 9). Guests: Alejandro Vargas: piano (9); José Luis Pacheco: piano (7); Roberto Garia: flugelhorn (9); Samuel Formell: timbales (2); Julio Noroña: guiro (2); "Las Elas": vocals (2, 3, 8).