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Cafêzz: Music & Friends

James Nadal By

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There are as many varieties of jazz composers, as they are styles of the music itself. With innumerable artists converging onto an ever emerging genre, it's interesting to witness how the music is evolving. Pianist Carmen Noemí is a cultured lyrical composer, who organized the band Cafêzz as a vehicle for showcasing melodious metaphors on her first recording, Music & Friends . With a remarkable ear for quality talent, there was a comprehensive effort to record the music exactly as she envisioned it.

The record is aligned around a coffee theme—thus the group name—and the jacket itself is a clever take on a menu one would find at a hip coffee house. Noemí went so far as to offer the music in a "Latte Mood" for the relaxing, tranquil numbers, and "Espresso Mood" for the dynamic, upbeat selections. Cafêzz is based out of San Juan, with rotating participants, though the core of the group is Noemí, Edgardo Sierra on bass, and drummer Raul Maldonado. All compositions are originals by Noemí, and reflect her flair for the dramatic as well as the sentimental.

"A Little Coffee," open with soft percussion and features the unique Puerto Rican cuatro—a ten stringed violin shaped guitar—played by local prodigy Christian Nieves. This instrument reappears on "Café Colao," this time engaged by Ariana Gonzalez Mezo. This track also showcases an all-female lineup performing with high energy and zeal. Noemí's music is aptly imaginative in an organic sense, as she composes centered on her personal experiences with nature and her surroundings. "Waterfalls," and "Barco de Papel," are aquatic themes in which the fluid bass of Edgardo Sierra becomes a prominent instrument. "Por la Vereda," an alfresco piece, features the flute of Ricardo Pons, while "Luna Gris," performed in a trio setting, portrays a melancholy reflection of a long lonely night. She is solo on grand piano for the romantic danza "Mis Recuerdos," dedicated to her parents, the originators of her love for music.

The lively side of the menu offers the Brazilian tinged "Mocha Samba," and the lively straight ahead jazz number "Mr. Flat Ninth," before thrusting into the Latino rhythms of "Piña Colada," where Noemí shows her capability to execute the complex piano montuno. "Espresso Jam" is a musical interpretation of a traffic jam done in an intense fusion style driven by the electric guitar of Osvaldo Lopez, with Noemí on a stinging synthesizer. The record concludes with "Coffee Break," a stimulating arrangement for a five piece saxophone section, it is a classy swinging number with a big band feel.

By reading the ample personnel credits, one realizes this was a complicated production. Carmen Noemí is the first to admit that there were many challenges in seeing her music come to light, but in the final analysis, the music on Music & Friends speaks for itself. Hopefully Cafêzz will continue to contribute as an innovative ensemble, directed by a visionary pianist.

Track Listing: A Little Coffee; Waterfalls; De Paseo…; Barco de Papel; Por La Vereda; Luna Gris; Mis Recuerdos; Café Colao; Mocha Samba; Mr. Flat Ninth; Piña Colada; Espresso Jam; Coffee Break.

Personnel: Carmen Noemí: piano, synthetizer, composer, arranger; Edgardo “Egui” Sierra: bass; producer; Raúl Maldonado: drums, darbuka (1), percussion (1); Christian Nieves: cuatro (1); Renaldo Guadalupe: acoustic guitar (2); Arnaldo Rivera: drums, percussion (2); Osvaldo Lopez: electric guitar (3, 12); Danny Lloret: drums (3, 4, 13); Christian Galindez: drums, percussion (3, 9, 11, 12); Ricardo Pons: flute (5); Errol Oliver: percussion (5); Ariana Gonzalez Mezo: cuatro (8); Angelica Kolsan: bass (8); Marlene Grafals: drums, bongo (8); Monika Nieves: guiro (8); Roberto Jimenez: tenor sax (9); Ismael Rodriguez Ponsa: electric piano (10); Norberto “Tiko” Ortiz: tenor sax (11); Paoli Mejias: conga (11); Ricardo Lugo: bass (11); Rafael “Indio” Martinez: baritone sax (13; Edgardo Sierra Jr.: alto sax (13); Roberto A. Bermudez: tenor sax (13); Pedro Rivera Toledo: alto sax (13); Jose Roberto Jimenez: tenor sax (13).

Title: Music & Friends | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Talismusic Records

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