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Afro-Caribbean Jazz Collective: Fiesta at Caroga


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Afro-Caribbean Jazz Collective: Fiesta at Caroga
Whenever the word "Afro-Caribbean" appears in an album's title, there are sure to be plenty of bold and exciting rhythmic passages, and Fiesta at Caroga, recorded by the Afro-Caribbean Jazz Collective at the 2022 Caroga Lake (New York) Music Festival, is no exception to the rule.

The Collective, founded by guitarist José Guzmán, is comprised for the most part of music professors at several central Illinois universities. As for the music itself, it leans heavily on such African and Caribbean staples as the Cuban son, Puerto Rican bamba, salsa, descarga, cha-cha and bembe, among other rhythms, using jazz as its counterpoint. Fiesta at Caroga marks the A-CJC's recorded debut, and a very good one it is.

The appetizing menu consists of half a dozen original compositions (authors unnamed), on the last two of which the Collective is augmented by the Caroga Arts String Orchestra (members unnamed). The A-CJC's rotating cast includes trumpeters Tito Carillo and Victor Garcia, neither of whom was able to make this date. The front line remains in capable hands (trumpeter Eric Devey, tenor saxophonist Brian Stark, trombonist Ben Weisiger ) while Guzman, bassist Ian Stewart and percussionists Stephen Busath, Sebastian Nassar and Brian Shank make sure the rhythm never flags.

Improvisations, mainly by Devey, Stark and Weisiger, are by and large brief but effective, always engaging and in lock step with the rhythmic component. A charming solo by an unnamed violinist on the soft-flowing, penultimate "Carino" lends added color, while the string section introduces the snappy closing number, "Baile Bailekita," on which Guzman offers a tantalizing statement. The first four numbers—"Descarga," "Xipirona Cha Cha," "El Canaveral," "El Volcan"—are no less dynamic and well-drawn.

Those who appreciate Latin rhythms leavened with jazz, ably performed by an earnest and talented group of artists, should find this lustrous Fiesta at Caroga both cordial and refreshing.

Track Listing

Descarga 2; Xipirona Cha Cha; El Canaveral; El Volcan; Carino; Baile Bailekita.


Afro-Caribbean Jazz Collective
band / ensemble / orchestra
Eric Devey
Brian Stark
Ben Weisger
Stephen Busath
Brian Shank
Sebastian Nassar

Album information

Title: Fiesta at Caroga | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: JGB Music

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