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Roy McGrath: Remembranzas

Edward Blanco By

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Honoring special memories of the past, Chicago-based Puerto Rico-born tenor saxophonist Roy McGrath presents a light Latin-styled session on Remembranzas, featuring eight new compositions, including a special tribute to Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos.

A fixture in Chicago's music scene, Mcgrath has led various groups performing jazz, funk, Latin and Salsa. While the leader is firmly established in the jazz scene as a traditional musician, he draws on his Latin heritage for this recording.

As Director of the Youth Afro-Caribbean Jazz Ensemble for Chicago's Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, in 2015, Mcgrath launched the Julia al Son de Jazz Project honoring the poetic writings of Burgos from which four of this album's compositions such as, "Plena Julia" and "Burgos en Vida," providing the main theme of the disc. His full-throated tenor saxophone voice is on display right from the opening, "Cancion De La Verdad Sencilla," featuring the spoken word from Puerto Rican actress Rosanna Sanchez and Claritza Maldonado as Ivelisse Diaz plays the Barril Seguidor in a folkloric bomba sica rhythm.

The core quartet of Bill Cessna on piano, Joseph Kitt Lyles on bass and Jonothon Wenzel on drums, come through quite nicely on the following more traditional "Por Ti Estoy." The tribute piece "Plena Julia" taps into the obvious Latin flavor of the session featuring Victor "Junito" Gonzales on the conga as the saxophonist flexes a bit more muscle here.

While the title track "Remembranza," comes across a bit on the down-tempo, humbling and haunting side of the music, "5/4 tune, "Poema Para Las Lagrimas" picks up the pace with a tasteful melody showcasing pianist Cessna and Wenzel's splashy cymbal accents on one of the better tunes of the set. The album rounds out with delicious "Mire Asi," the stylish and percussive "KyKy" and the final homage tune to Burgos on "Burgos en Vida."

Tenor saxophonist Roy Mcgrath reaches into the past and brings back special memories in musical form on Remembranzas, offering an album of sure-to-be-memorable musical moments for the present. Well done!

Track Listing: Cancion De La Verdad Sencilla; Por Ti Estoy; Plena Julia; Remembranza; 5/4 Tune (Poema Para Las Lagrimas); Mire Asi; KyKy; Burgos en Vida.

Personnel: Roy Mcgrath: tenor saxophone; Bill Cessna: piano; Joseph Kitt Lyles: bass; Jonothon Wenzel: drums; Ivelisse Diaz: Barril Seguidor; Victor "Junito" Gonzalez: congas.

Title: Remembranzas | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Self Produced

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