Latin Fever: Metamorphosis and Absolute Quintet

Russ Musto By

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Yosvanny Terry Cabrera
Kindred Rhythm

Dafnis Prieto
Absolute Quintet

In spite of the unrelenting diplomatic chasm between the US and Cuba, the island's exceptionally expansive musical tradition remains one of the most important influences on the continuing development of jazz in America today. This pair of very different new releases from two of New York's most prominent Cuban born musicians, saxophonist Yosvany Terry and drummer Dafnis Prieto - each of whom appears as a sideman on the other's disc - clearly demonstrates the significance of the symbiosis. Virtuoso instrumentalists, they show themselves to be equally proficient composers, integrating various elements of melody, harmony and rhythm from their native land with the innovations of their adopted country, broadening the scope of Latin jazz.

Metamorphosis, Terry's debut as a leader, is a tour- de-force effort with trumpeter Avishai Cohen, guitarist Mike Moreno, pianist Luis Perdomo, bassists Hans Glawishnig and Yunior Terry Cabrera, percussionist Pedro Martinez and Prieto (with James Genus and Jeff "Tain Watts guesting on one track). The music is thoroughly modern, a refreshingly original hybrid that blends M-Base influenced complexity with combustible Cuban rhythms. This is exemplified by the opening "Okonkólo Concertante , a rocking concerto based on bata rhythms delineated by Martinez and Prieto, Moreno's guitar supplying a contemporary atmosphere. Tipico compositional elements are combined with boppish sensibilities on "El Burrito while "Journey of Awareness invokes the African antecedents of Cuban music, Martinez vocalizing a prayer to the orisha Obatala.

Genus and Watts join with Moreno to energize "This Is It , a swinging vehicle for inventive solos by Terry and Cohen. Cabrera's "The Crying is a melodious line that moves from rubato melancholy to bluesy optimism around Perdomo's piano. Terry opens "Subversive with an airy acappella alto introduction, contrasting with the complex density of the piece, which features Moreno's guitar with the leader's horn. "Transito Full is a harmonically intriguing representation of a Havana traffic jam constructed around Prieto's labyrinthine rhythms. The closing "Rampa Abajo is a celebratory remembrance that has Terry's shekere churning rhythms with Prieto and Martinez and his soprano blending with Cohen on the cheery melody that ends the date.

Prieto's Absolute Quintet is a unique outing on which the drummer reflects upon the influence of European music on Cuban culture, with his own compositions written specifically for the distinctive sound of this unit, which includes violinist Christian Howes and cellist Dana Leong, along with Terry's saxophones and Jason Lindner on Hammond organ, piano and keyboards. Each track has its own special character, from the rhythmic whimsy of "The Coolest to the impressionistic beauty of "Sensaciones and the percussive intensity of "The Stutterer . Henry Threadgill, an important compositional influence on the leader, is featured on the romantic epoch "Afrotango . The date's centerpiece, "One Day Suite , is a multihued journey in sound and rhythm; the portentous "New Elephant and bouyant "Renew The Elephant are imaginative dream soundtracks. The concluding "Innocent Bird masterfully mixes emotions and cadences, proving Prieto to be as imposing a composer as he is a percussionist.

Tracks and Personnel


Tracks: Okonkolo Concertante; El Burlon (The Joker); Journey of Awareness; This Is It; The Crying; Subvervise; Transito a Full (Traffic Jam); Rampa Abajo.

Personnel: Yosvany Terry Cabrera: saxophone, chekere; Avishai Cohen: trumpet; Luis Perdomo: piano; Mike Moreno: guitar; Yunior Terry Cabrera: bass; Hans Glawishnig: bass; James Genus: bass; Dafnis Prieto: drums; Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums; Pedro Martinez: percussion, vocals.

Absolute Quintet

Tracks: The Coolest; Sensaciones; The Stutterer; Afrotango; One Day Suite: Morning; One Day Suite: Afternoon; One Day Suite: Night; New Elephant; Renew the Elephant; Innocent Bird

Personnel: Dafnis Prieto: drums, bells; Jason Lindner: keyboards; Yosvanny Terry: saxophones, checkere; Christian Howes: violin, bass violin; Dana Leong: cello; Henry Threadgill: alto saxophone.

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