OnCuban Jazz FunkMiguel Romero hand-crafts a tasty Latin-jazz fusion that breathes fresh new life into an often stale art form. This ensemble grabs ears from the very first tune, as powerful conga beats are hammered out beneath Romero’s stylish piano ostinatos and Larry Jackson’s warm tenor sax. After a couple of minutes of simmering, new images break through the steam as Romero switches to electric piano and bassist Kurt Mitchell moves from drone to ultra-funky Jaco lines. Hot organ briefly wails in to close the piece abruptly. Sold American!
Besides being a notably talented keyboard player, comfortable with everything from trad Latin piano to shimmering fusiony Rhodes, Romero is also a fine composer. Track #2 is a simply beautiful tune with a subdued Latin undercurrent, a little reminiscent of War in their more relaxed moments. Papa Michael’s vintage guitar tones bring #5 right back to the 70s, while #3 is a bullet-fast, fragmented soul romp with Romero’s chameleonic piano, Jackson’s fluttering flute, and dispersed samples of rollercoaster sounds. Jackson is an especially vital part of the whole proceedings, particularly his non-cloying soprano sax tone. The percussionists are also to be commended for their technical facility and creative rhythmic support.
Cuban Jazz Funkis a very entertaining disc that deserves much public attention. Bravo to Miguel Romero for such a choice issue. I expect that he will become a force to be reckoned with, as Latin jazz continues to evolve over the next decade.
Track Listing: Descarga Palmieri; Sunrise; Zorro
Personnel: Miguel Romero, keyboards and percussion; Larry Jackson, saxophone and flute; Count Mbutu, congas and percussion; Kurt Mitchell, bass; Tad Gulley, drums; Hassan Ortiz, bongos and batas; Anthony Papa Michael, guitar on track #5 only.