William Cepeda is a man with a mission. His goal is aptly given by the title of his cd, his debut as a leader. He wants to introduce us to the music of his roots and beyond. Cepeda takes the rhythms, the dances, of Puerto Rican music, and uses them as the basis for Jazz. As Paquito D'Rivera tells us in the liner notes, Latin Jazz has been based on the music of Brazil and Cuba, but rarely on the musics of the other Latin American countries. Cepeda wants to rectify that deficiency with respect to his homeland. He takes rhythms such as the Bomba
and the Plena
and layers melodies and improvisations on top of the rhythms and creates a dynamic music, bright with the festivity of the horns, and rumbling with the polyrhythms of the percussionists. The album is catchy and entertaining - only the most determined of listeners will be able to sit still - but it's more than that too. Michelle Rosewoman's composition "For Now and Forever" is given an arrangement which shows off the depth of this music. The melody instruments weave together multiple lines, while the percussion instruments echo the melody lines with multiple rhythms. The result reminds us that while Latin Jazz is often presented as something hot and entertaining, but not as serious as the real thing, that's far from the truth: Latin Jazz can be just as demanding as any other form of Jazz. It just makes the hard work fun by keeping the listeners dancing.
This album is best listened to as a companion to Cepeda's Afro Boricua ensemble disc. On this disc Cepeda presents the various rhythms of Puerto Rican music in a more pure form. Together both discs present an education in Puerto Rican music that will keep the student dancing.
Visit the Blue Jackel website (Cepeda is the featured artist this month) at http://www.bluejackel.com.
Personnel: William Cepeda: trombone, cua, conch shell, percussion, vocals; Donny McCaslin: saxophone; Omar Kabir: trumpet, conch shell; Raul Romero: guitar; Uli Gussendoerfer: piano, keyboards; Ruben Rodriguez: bass; Mark Walker: drums; Juan Gutierrez: bomba drums; vocals. Special Guests: Slide Hampton: trombone (1, 8); Paquito D'Rivera: alto saxophone, clarinet (4, 6); Yomo Toro: Cuatro (2). Additional Musicians: Luis Bonilla: trombone (3, 11); Tony Lujan: trumpet (2, 5, 6, 7, 11); Luis Aquino: trumpet (4, 6, 11); Luis Disla: saxophone (2, 9); Eric Figueroa: piano, keyboards (1); John Benitez: bass (6, 10, 11); Bobby Sanabria: bongos, vocals (1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 11); Edgardo Miranda: cuatro (2); Tito Matos: pandereta, bomba drums, vocals (1, 4, 6, 7); Cita Rodgriguez: vocals (1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 11); Richie Viruet: vocals (1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 11); Juan Usera: vocals (1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 11); Julio Merced: verso negro (1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 11).
Track Listing: Bomba Swing, Ponta Pa'l Monte, Pa' Mi Cuembe, Waiting For Carmen, Toca Mi Caracol, Quasi Plena, For Now And Forever, Sara, Pa' Mi Gente, Colors, Afrorican Jam. Total time: 74:12.