Brian Andres: Mayan Suite

Chris M. Slawecki By

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Brian Andres: Mayan Suite
Drummer and percussionist Brian Andres may have been born in Cincinnati but his musical homeland is Latin America. A drummer by age ten, Anders studied at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music and eventually followed his Latin musical muse from local gigs with Cincinnati Slim & The Headhunters to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he founded and fronted the Afro-Latin Jazz Cartel.

Mayan Suite extends Andres' lifelong love affair with the music of Latin America while presenting the recorded debut of Brian Andres Trio Latino, the three-piece rhythm engine—drummer Andres with bassist Aaron Germain and pianist Christian Tumalan, who simultaneously co-leads the Pacific Mambo Orchestra—that drives the larger Cartel ensemble. "In the larger group, we're basically playing supporting roles," Andres explains, "Whereas in the trio, we three have to step up and contribute as individuals to make it work."

"One of the things about this trio, I wanted us individually to have a voice of our own," Andres concludes. This is the genuine genius that these three musicians spread across the five originals and five cover versions on Mayan Suite: Their individual solo voices sparkle like virtuosos, but their interplay creates a conversational fourth voice which rises up like a spirit guide in the spaces and connections between them.

Tumalan steps out in front to devour each note of the melody to Chick Corea's "Morning Sprite" and Andres' second take on Corea's "Got a Match?" (reprising as a trio the Cartel's ensemble romp through this same tune on 2016's This Could Be That). "Got a Match?" proves an excellent opener to Mayan Suite: It explodes, ignites and burns in your ears, with drums and piano both dancing with its melody and horsewhipping its rhythm.

Bassist Germain "steps ahead" through Mike Mainieri's "Islands," arranged as a bass spotlight. "I've always loved fusion, and Steps Ahead was arguably my favorite band," Andres says. "I thought 'Islands' would be a great bass feature."

Saving the best for last: Trio Latino's new performances of "On Green Dolphin Street" and "Someday My Prince Will Come" prove worthy of these timeless compositions, as Andres, Tumalan and Germain express their own individual instrumental voices and yet sublimate them into collective dialogue so natural, intuitive and brilliant that they raise echoes of ensembles led by Bill Evans and Dave Brubeck. You'll discover the genuine genius of Mayan Suite in the spaces in between.

Track Listing

Got a Match?, Viento Solar, Mayan Suite (a. The Mayan Emperor, b. Sacrifice Ritual, c. Maya Dance, d. The Return of the Mayan Emperor, e. Ball Game), Escucha, Someday My Prince Will Come, Islands, Morning Sprite, Si Tu Vez, Higashi Nakano, On Green Dolphin Street


Brian Andres: drums; Aaron Germain: bass; Christian Tumalan: piano.

Album information

Title: Mayan Suite | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Bacalao Records

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