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Pablo Menendez & Mezcla: I'll See You in Cuba
April 1, 2010
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I'll See You in Cuba
is an extraordinary celebration of Cuba's dance and song. It is a fiercely vivid account of a culture infused with the most electrifying elements of Afro-Caribbean heritage. As a musical odyssey it holds its own with the very best of
Buena Vista Social Club
. Pablo MenÃ©ndez and the wonderful musicians of Mezcla set the world alight with a ravishing blend of blues, soul, and jazz idioms that collide with the "son," "guaracha," "guajira," "bolero," and "danzon." These they grind into a fine mixture of pure joy and unforgettable musical ecstasy.
But nothing they do is predictable, nor will any charts conform to what is expected of Cuban music. On the contrary, a surprise appears at every turn. MenÃ©ndez puts his large and indelible stamp on the repertoire with burning guitar licks. His opening to "Chicoy's Blues" is a classic example of the raw energy and guttural harmonics that characterize his playing. Although his influence on the repertoire is broad and all-encompassing, there are other wonderful charts throughout the album, which opens with a classic, racy track, "Big Brecker," written and fronted by tenor saxophonist Orlando SÃ¡nchez in the style of and in homage to the late
"Â¿QuiÃ©n Tiene Ritmo?" is a clever take on
1930 classic "I Got Rhythm" and introduces the extraordinary voice of flutist Magela Herrera. A technical virtuoso, Herrera plays with a warmth and soul far beyond her years. Her solos impress with their unexpected and joyous twists as she turns harmonic invention inside out. No wonder she is a familiar face on the musical scene in Cuba wherever hot and memorable
sessions can be heard. Herrera is also an accomplished pianist and gives a moving account of herself on Mezcla's rendition of
"'Round Midnight," as she does elsewhere on the album.
Trumpeter Mayquel GonzÃ¡lez is another impressive instrumentalist, who tears up the melodies of "Chucho's Blues" along with its composer, Orlando SÃ¡nchez. GonzÃ¡lez is also a constant reminder that there is great depth in the heritage of Cuba's trumpet virtuosos from men such as FÃ©lix ChappotÃn and "Chocolate" Armenteros to "El Guajiro" Mirabal, JesÃºs AlemaÃ±y, Luis Escalante and
. As if to drive home the point, GonzÃ¡lez takes another white-hot solo on "'Round Midnight," a track that is turned into a remarkable "bolero." The ensemble also hosts some fine musicianspianists Alejandro Vargas and JosÃ© Luis Pacheco, percussionists Samuel Formell and Julio NoroÃ±a, and flugelhorn player Roberto Garciaall from the celebrated Cuban group, Los Van Van, who flavor "Homenaje a Afro Cuba."
This is music that will echo with excitement long after its last notes on "Chicoy's 'Son'" have died down.
Track Listing: Big Brecker; Â¿QuiÃ©n Tiene Ritmo?; El MÃ©dico de Los Pianos (For Benjamin
Treuhaft); I'll See You In C.U.B.A; Chicoy's Blues; Oslo; Chucho's Blues; 'Round Midnight;
Homenaje a Afro Cuba; Chicoy's "Son."
Personnel: Pablo MenÃ©ndez: guitar, vocals, musical director; Magela Herrera: flute, vocals, piano
(1, 4, 8); Octavio Rodriguez: percussion; Mayquel GonzÃ¡lez: trumpet, flugelhorn;
Orlando SÃ¡nchez: tenor saxophone, piano (1, 5, 6, 7); NÃ©stor Rodriguez: tenor
saxophone (3, 9); Ruy AdriÃ¡n LÃ³pez-Nussa: drums (1, 3, 6); Oliver
ValdÃ©s: drums (5, 7); Renier Mendoza: drums (4, 8, 9); Ernesto Hermida: bass (1-3,
5, 7); JosÃ© Hermida: drums (4, 6, 8, 9); Alejandro Vargas: piano (9); JosÃ© Luis
Pacheco: piano (7); Roberto Garcia: flugelhorn (9); Samuel Formell: timbales; Julio
NoroÃ±a: guiro; "Las Elas": vocals (2, 3, 8).
Year Released: 2010
| Record Label:
| Style: Latin/World
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