Chris Washburne and his Syotos Band are very special. This would be just an opinion however accurate if it weren't for the fact that they've maintained long-term weekly gigs at a top jazz club (Smoke) and a top Latin club (Nuyorican Poets Cafe), the latter for eight years. Recently, they added Tuesdays at a top blues club (B.B. King's). These gigs are notable for two reasons: one, in the current dismal climate of New York's clubs, getting one weekly date is a major accomplishment, even for the very talented. And two, the breadth of the venues jazz, Latin, and blues reflects this band's appeal across conventional musical borders.
Paradise in Trouble is an exciting, crackling, danceable mix of Latin rhythms and percussion with jazz, funk, R&B, hiphop, gospel, Caribbean, and Afro-Cuban, with occasional Slavic and Middle Eastern moments. Ten tracks are catchy, varied Washburne originals; one, the powerhouse "Jazzy," is by legendary Willie Colon. All of them are expertly arranged and delivered, swinging and gleeful. The stage is set by the infectious opener, "Money is the Future Tense," which returns in a driving house-music remix as the closer. The combinations are intriguing: "Dirty as a Boy" (Cuban son and hip-hop), "Your Inside Out" (with its nine-beat rhythm from Zimbabwe), "Dr. Syo," (jazz and the African gyil, a mallet instrument made from gourds and wood), "Paradise in Trouble" (funk meets mambo). With its blazing horns, great percussion, joyful energy, and memorable melodies, this is a great party disc.
Note: SYOTOS stands for "see you on the other side," a wry and triumphant reference to Washburne's recovery from cancer.
Track Listing: Money is the Future Tense, She's Dirty as a Boy, Anondyne of Muddledom,
Nuyorican Son, Whatever You Want From Me, Paradise in Trouble, Your Inside
Out, On Whatever Day of the Week Saturday Happens, Jazzy, Dr. Syo, Money is
the Future Tense (remix)
Personnel: Chris Washburne (trombone, percussion, composer, producer), John Walsh (trumpet, flugelhorn,
composer), Ole Mathisen (tenor and soprano sax, composer, remix engineer), Barry Olsen (piano,
electric keyboards, trombone, composer), Leo Traversa (bass), Vince Cherico (drums, percussion)
Wilson "Chembo" Corniel (congas, hand percussion), Randy Klein (producer), Bobby Sanabria
(percussion, drums), Renato Thoms (bongos), Valerie Dee Naranjo (gyil, djembe, kpanlogo drums),
Bernard Wama (gyil), Ruth Sergel (bells,
handclaps), Roberto Jos? Sanabria (hand claps), Gary Dallaire (hand claps)
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.