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

Title: Cuban Jazz Funk | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Alafia Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Slægt CD/LP/Track Review Slægt
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 24, 2017
Read An Eye on the Future CD/LP/Track Review An Eye on the Future
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 24, 2017
Read Cherry ‎– Sakura CD/LP/Track Review Cherry ‎– Sakura
by John Sharpe
Published: September 24, 2017
Read Blow, Strike & Touch CD/LP/Track Review Blow, Strike & Touch
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 24, 2017
Read Elusive CD/LP/Track Review Elusive
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Transitions CD/LP/Track Review Transitions
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 23, 2017
Read "The Expensive Train Set" CD/LP/Track Review The Expensive Train Set
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 5, 2016
Read "Silent Light" CD/LP/Track Review Silent Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read "The Duo - Live!" CD/LP/Track Review The Duo - Live!
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 2, 2016
Read "Transitions" CD/LP/Track Review Transitions
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 23, 2017
Read "Sunrain" CD/LP/Track Review Sunrain
by Geno Thackara
Published: November 25, 2016
Read "Two Roads" CD/LP/Track Review Two Roads
by Jim Olin
Published: May 12, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.