A shared love for Latin music is what drives the partnership headed by pianist Bennett Paster and acoustic/electric bassist Gregory Ryan, known as Grupo Yanqui. Formed in 2001, the like-minded associates combine the musical influences of Afro-Cuban and Brazilian rhythms with an American jazz perspective. Grupo Yanqui Rides Again, the ensemble's second release, features clever composing and arranging from the two leaders along with first-rate musicianship.
There's an abundance of energy emanating from this disc. The opening "Tones for Jones Bones" finds trumpeter Alex Norris blowing through the Chick Corea classic with conviction and finesse. The tune's extended outro contains an impressive piano/bass ostinato pattern over a spirited back-and-forth between drummer Keith Hall and percussionist Gilad. Norris and saxophonist Chris Cheek partake in soulful blowing exchanges on Paster's funky "The Unabonger" and Ryan's fiery "If Woody Had Gone Right to the Police..."
Ryans' "The Chick from Panama" and Paster's 5/4 cha-cha-cha "El Vaquero Numero Cinco" reveal a pair of composers with a thorough understanding of the Latin jazz vernacular, full of contemporary twists and turns. Disc highlights include Paster's clustered montuno pattern on "The Kid from Albuquerque," complimenting a soaring, lyrical melody and Ryan's emotive solo bass intro to the 6/8 modal closer "PoMoAfroMoFoJo."
Grupo Yanqui succeeds at presenting challenging musical ideas with broad-based appeal. The pulsating rhythmic clarity of each track has the potential to reach a mass audience without sacrificing an ounce of musical integrity.
Track Listing: Tones for Jones Bones; The Unabonger; The Chick from Panama; If Woody Had Gone Right to the Police...; El Vaquero Numero Cinco; The Kid from Albuquerque; Chelsea Bridge; PoMoAfroMoFoJoIntro; PoMoAfroMoFoJo.
Personnel: Bennett Paster: piano; Gregory Ryan: acoustic bass, electric bass; Chris Cheek: tenor saxophone, alto saxophone; Alex Norris: trumpet, flugelhorn, clave, chekere; Keith Hall: drums; Gilad: percussion.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.