Maybe it's because I grew up around Philadelphia through the 1970s, but I always remember soul music aroundsoul music light enough to dance like a butterfly on a breeze yet knee-deep enough in the funk that one could dive in and swim. Its charm was easy to recognize and feel, but hard to describe and define.
Gecko Turner's Guapapasea! feels like one of those great breezy soul records. It comes from Spain via his nimble twelve-piece Afrobeatnik Orchestra, which features some of the world's best Afro-Cuban and Brazilian instrumentalists, including percussionist Ruben Dantas (Paco de Lucia, Chick Corea), trumpeter Irapoam Freire, drummer Emilio Valdés (Chucho Valdés), and other instrumental aces from the US, Africa and Spain.
Turner calls his highly individualized style "Afromeño, a mixture of all musicsand boy, does he ever mean all musicsfrom Spain, Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas. These cover versions of "Rainbow Country (Bob Marley), and the acoustic lounge/reggae/trip-hop cover of "Subterranean Homesick Blues (Bob Dylan), rendered in Spanish, seem to invite you to wade in these waters.
Because after you grow comfortable enough to dive into "Afromeño, the genuinely inspired lunacy begins. Turner proves quite the tasty instrumentalist on guitars, drums, and programming, and growls and purrs and meows through his lead vocals like a tomcat on a funky midnight prowl. "How Come You Do Me Like You Do Me? (Big Bang Romeo) and "Sabes Quién te Quiere? swing softly on deft rhythms, percussion and guitars, while Latin piano and rhythms rock "Monka Mongas. Lastly, its slinky rhythm and feline melody and vocal make the set-ending "45,000$ (Guapa Pasea) almost impossible to resist.
Guapapasea! will make you smile and dance and shake ya groove thang, yeah yeah. Even if not high art, it certainly delivers high times.
Track Listing: Subterranean Homesick Blues (Tristezas del Blues Nostalgico Y Subterraneo); Sabes Quien Te Quiere?; Limon en la Cabeza; Te Estas Equivocando; How Come You Do Me Like You Do Me? (Big Bang Romeo); Rainbow Country; Monka Mongas; Did Ya Black Up Today?; Dime Que Te Quea; Nina del Guadiana; Dizzie; 45,000$ (Guapa Pasea).
Personnel: Gecko Turner: vocals, guitar, percussion, programming; Alvaro Fdez "Dr. Robelto": bass, backing vocals; Pepin Munoz: drums; Diego Antunez: flute; Rafa Prieto: guitar; Javi Mojave: congas, cajon; Tony Pajaro "Wailer": shaker, backing vocals; Emelio Valdes: drums; Rodney D'Assis: pandiero, shaker, agogo, tamburino, snare drum; Irapoan Freire: trumpets; Rubem Dantas: cymbals, cuica; Felix Bote: trumpet; Markos Bayon: bass; Cesar Bayon: percussion; Lolo Inglesias: Spanish guitar; Diego Antunez: flute; Alba Echave: backing vocals; Javeir Vercher: tenor sax; The Ara Family: backing vocals.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.