207

Miguel Romero: Cuban Jazz Funk

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
In Cuba, where musical studies take on the force of a "calling" in spite of the political insensitivity to the arts, the spirit of the music comes through with a pulse created from polyrhythmic complexity. The mystery of the music is how the combination of different and sometimes opposing rhythms, often non-notatable, can combine into a synthesis that appeals directly to the hearts of the listeners, as does all of the music stemming from African drumming. With numerous influences converging on the island, Cuban music reflects a number of genres, even as it merges all of them into a uniquely appealing and instantly identifiable music.

While many Cuban-born keyboardists, such as Chucho Valdés and Gonzalo Rubalcaba have chosen to remain with the acoustic piano, Miguel Romero instead experiments with the various forms of Latin music by varying the sounds of electronic keyboard. Or at least such is the case on Cuban Jazz Funk. Rather than using bop as a reference point for his combination of congas and batá drums with jazz, Romero has advanced a generation or two forward to explore the commonality of funk and clavé. Astute observers like Don Byron and Christian McBride have noticed that the underlying foundations remains similar, with the result that they influence listeners to get up and dance and feel the music.

So, on Cuban Jazz Funk, Romero's sextet (four of whom play drums or percussion) in effect modernizes the way that Cuban music integrates with American jazz or blues. Based in Atlanta and gaining a growing legion of fans, Romero indeed does overtly use the blues as the basis for "Zorro's Rollercoaster," the standard changes rooting the solos that follow the bouncing introductory theme more akin to carnaval than amusement park.

On "In The Moment," tenor saxophonist Larry Jackson creates a trance-like texture over a single chord, much like some of Gato Barbieri's work, as Romero paints a soundscape of shimmering and echoed ringing and drummer Tad Gulley brushes a soft saunter. The same effect of reverberating chords sustained over several measures works on "Sieston" as well, bassist Kurt Mitchell asserting the bass lines that propel and unify the tune as the other members of the group stretch out. Romero creates an orchestral effect to bring up the "Sunrise," eventually settling into a steel drum effect for a swaying ease that walks the fine line between contemporary jazz and Latin irresistibility.

Perhaps the most satisfying tune on Cuban Jazz Funk is the first one, "Descarga Palmieri," which pays tribute to Eddie and Charlie Palmieri, but which also uses an aggressive McCoy-Tyner-like vamp to bring out some remarkable soloing.

Following up his more relaxing Island Breeze album with one of wider influences, Miguel Romero is emerging as one of the more popular Latin pianists. His goal is connecting with his audiences in direct ways that recall his island influences while they revel in the equally universal appeal of funk.

http://www.miguelromero.com


Track Listing: Descarga Palmieri, Sunrise, Zorro's Rollercoaster, In The Moment, Citizen Of The World*, Sieston, Meditation

Personnel: Miguel Romero, keyboard, percussion; Larry Jackson, saxophones, flute; Kurt Mitchell, bass; Tad Gulley, drums; Count Mbutu, congas, percussion; Hassan Ortiz, bongos, bat

| Record Label: Alafia Music | Style: Latin/World


Shop

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Everyone Is Everyone Else" CD/LP/Track Review Everyone Is Everyone Else
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 13, 2016
Read "Wrong is Right" CD/LP/Track Review Wrong is Right
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: June 4, 2016
Read "One For Marian: Celebrating Marian McPartland" CD/LP/Track Review One For Marian: Celebrating Marian McPartland
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 5, 2016
Read "In Tokyo, Japan" CD/LP/Track Review In Tokyo, Japan
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 16, 2016
Read "Texas Times" CD/LP/Track Review Texas Times
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 14, 2016
Read "Imagine Nation" CD/LP/Track Review Imagine Nation
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 1, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!