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It's a stroke of genius, this incorporation of Cuban and Jewish music. Drummer Roberto Juan Rodriguez left Cuba at age nine and settled with his family in Miami, where he encountered exiles of diaspora, Jewish survivors dancing into their senior years to the sounds of the cha cha and mambo. A move to New York to work professionally led to further explorations of Jewish themes, playing in Marc Ribot's Los Cubano Postizos band, and eventually to the opportunityenter John Zorn of Tzadikto record a CD of Jewish music.
Baila! Gitano Baila! (Dance! Gypsy Dance!) introduces an exuberant Cuban/Jewish/Gypsy hybrid, a sound that combines a fervid, swirling klezmer sound with the gentle and insistent percolations of Latin percussion.
The septet incorporates the high flight of two violins tempered with the richer tone of the cello, along with reeds and trombonethe latter adding a needed gravitas to the ensemble soundalong with, organ and accordion, trumpet, bass in front of the percussion. The ensemble mix is an uplifting experience, full of joy. The set is just Rodriguez's second recorded foray into composing and arranging, and he proves himself a gifted craftsman in both fields, incorporating short solo slots to showcase the individual players throughout the uniquely exhilarating instrumental interplay.
Track Listing: Wolfie's Corner, Paseo Del Prado, Hadida, Baila! Gitano Baila!, Piruli, Para Peru, Marranos Y Coverseros, Dice El Sabio Solomon, Soshua La Bella, Turkish-Bulgarish
Personnel: Curtis Hasselbring—trombone; Matt Darriau—clarinet, flute; Ted Reichman—acordion, b-3 Hammond-Leslie; Meg Okura—violin; Sam Bardfeld—violin; Mary Wooten—cello; Brad Jones—bass; Roberto Juan Rodriguez—percussion; Special Guest: Roberto Luis Rodriguez—trumpet, bombardino, valve trombone
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.