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A full horn section combined with an ensemble of percussionists usually means one thing: Afro-Cuban jazz. Conductor Bobby Sanabria and the Manhattan School of Music's Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra capture the essence of this style of music by paying tribute to a landmark recording.
Kenya Revisited Live!!!, originally recorded in 1957 by Machito and his Afro-Cubans, featuring Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, is widely hailed as a first- rate assembly of this style of music. With updated music and new arrangements the orchestra is comprised of the standard three-piece rhythm section, five saxophones, four trumpets, four trombones, and four percussionists who also contribute background vocals. Sanabria even contributes some percussive work as well as vocals.
"Congo Mulence" begins with the percussion complemented by baritone sax before the rest of the horns come in with some three-way call and response action. The pace shifts slightly as Anthony Stanco leads on trumpet, muted by a plunger. Solos are by Justin Janer on alto sax, pianist Christian Sylvester Sands, Michael Davenport on tenor sax, Billy Norris on acoustic bass and Sanabria on timbales. The tempo of this piece changes several times as the mood changes.
The title song features Timothy Vaughn on trombone and Pawan Benjamin on tenor. The two lead during the elegant dance portion of the song, complemented by the other horns. Then a signal from the drums sets off a sequence in which only the percussion is head. Candido solos on congas during this frenetic passage.
"Blues a la Machito" is a moderate mambo piece. The vocalists quote the chorus to "Help Me Rhonda." Jimmie "J.J." Kirkpatrick leads on muted trumpet. During one sequence, he injects a rolling staccato. The full orchestra is in a swinging, sassy mood.
Recorded in April 2008 at the Manhattan School of Music, Kenya Revisited Live!!! consists of fourteen tracks with more than an hour's worth of music. There's some big band jazz, as well as some classical music phrasing"Tin Tin Deo" quotes extensively from "In the Hall of the Mountain King"but it's first and foremost about the blend that is known as Afro-Cuban music. The soloists are excellent, as well as the entire orchestra.
Track Listing: Intro; Frenzy; Congo Mulence; Kenya; Oyeme; Holiday Holiday;
Cannonology; Wild Jungle; Blues a la Machito; Conversation; Theme and
Variations on Tin Tin Deo; Tin Tin Deo; Minor Rama; Tururato.
Personnel: Bobby Sanabria: conductor, drums (8), timbales solo (3), vocals;
Candido: conga solos (4, 8, 14); Justin Janer: lead alto saxophone;
Vince Nero: second alto; Pawan Benjamin: tenor saxophone; Michael
Davenport: tenor sax; Michael Sherman: baritone saxophone; Michael
Taylor: lead trumpet; Jimmie "J.J." Kirkpatrick: trumpet; Anthony
Stanco: trumpet; Jonathan Barnes: trumpet; Timothy Vaughn: lead
trombone; Felix Fromm: trombone; Nate Adkins: trombone; Timothy
"T.J." Robinson: bass trombone; Billy Norris: acoustic bass, electric
bass (12, 14); Christian Sylvester Sands: piano; Norman Edwards:
drums, bongo and cencerro (8); Giancarlo Anderson: percussion,
background vocals; Jake Golblas: percussion, background vocals;
Cristian Rivera: percussion, background vocals; Obanilu Allenda:
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.