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Enildo Rasua at the The Jazz Standard

Ernest Barteldes By

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Enildo Rasúa
New Dimensions In Latin Jazz: Cuban Drum Series
The Jazz Standard
New York, NY

August 6, 2013

For his U.S. debut, Cuban drummer/percussionist and composer Enildo Rasúa kicked off the evening's early set with a snippet of Ernesto Lecuona's "La Comparsa," and then quickly moved into "12 de La Noche," a composition by his brother, Isel Rasúa. The tune began as just a duet between the bandleader and pianist Ben Winkelman, but a few bars later they were joined by the remainder of the quartet, which was rounded out by bassist Ricky Rodriguez and saxophonist Troy Roberts.

Rasúa has a very unique technique: he plays both drums and congas at the same time, holding two drumsticks in his right hand while playing congas with his left, on occasion picking up a stick with his left hand for certain accents on hi-hats or cymbals. He has amazing coordination, and does not leave any empty spaces in the music when he plays.

Emiliano Salvador's "Quinta Avenida" began with a syncopated Latin mode, but then quickly switched to a more contemporary jazz format, melodically led by Rodriguez, who also played a dexterous solo halfway through. Ernesto Duarte's "Anda Dilo Ya" was a bolero, beginning in a slower tempo that accelerated into a more syncopated pace that allowed for Rasúa to play an extended drum solo utilizing pretty much all the resources he had at hand. Another highlight was the percussionist's 7/8 composition, "Tihai."

One of the best moments of the show came when the group played Tommy Igoe's "New Ground," which began with Rasúa and Rodriguez alone, the bassist playing a Jaco Pastorius- reminiscent line filled with funky grooves that seemed to encourage the bandleader to go further with his accents. Rasúa took the audience completely by surprise during the last number, Isel Rasúa's "Mucho Ritmo," in which he played the bass drum and hi-hat with his feet and congas with his left hand while doing an accomplished electric piano solo with his right; it was mesmerizing to see.

The quartet demonstrated great chemistry, especially Rodriguez and Rasúa, who seemed to feed off of each other's musical energy. Both Winkleman and Roberts had great individual moments to showcase their talents as well, and the great quality of the tunes—many of which were being heard for the first time—made for a very enjoyable experience.

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