Puerto Rican born (now a New York City resident) drummer/composer Fernando García leads his young sextet through a set blending folkloric bomba rhythms and jazz. García was immersed in bomba after meeting master percussionist and folklorist Rafael Maya in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, where his parents lived. Maya taught the drummer the traditional tune "Guaynabo Mi Tambor," as well as contributing "Se Va" (which has lyrics, but García made an instrumental arrangement).
The rest of the set was composed by the leader. "Audubon" (named after a street he lived on in Manhattan) plays with a three against four time feel, first with Jan Kus' tenor saxophone solo, then Gabriel Vicéns' guitar solo, and finally a dialog between the drums and percussionist Victor Pablo . The title tune is in five, with a theme that interlaces Kus' tenor saxophone with guest Miguel Zenon's alto saxophone. Vicéns contributes a fleet guitar solo, followed by pianist Gabriel Chakarji, Zenón's powerful alto spot, and finally the leader's drum solo.
"Healing Prayer" is a gentle feature for Kus' soprano saxophone (in seven; the composer loves to use uncommon time signatures), as well as the guitar. After a more folkloric interlude (featuring García's vocals on "Guaynabo Mi Tambor") the album closes with the driving "Tiempo," an Afro-Cuban flavored original. Double bassist Dan Martinez switches to electric bass; drums and percussion both get the spotlight, playing over a vamp.
Guasábara Puerto Rico is an exciting blast of Latin jazz with a fresh perspective. García distinguishes himself as drummer, composer and bandleader, supported by a strong, supportive young band.
Track Listing: Audubon; Ideas Convergentes; Guasábara Puerto Rico; Healing Prayer; The Element; Guaynabo Mi Tambor; Se Va; Tiempo.
Personnel: Fernando García: drums, vocals (6); Dan Martínez: upright bass, electric bass (8); Gabriel Chakarji: piano; Gabriel Vicéns, guitar; Jan Kus: tenor sax, soprano sax (4); Victor Pablo: barril, congas; Miguel Zenón, alto sax (3).
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