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Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez and Robby Ameen pack a whole lot into this collaboration. The prime beat comes from Latin music, but there is hip-hop, classical, and jazz as well. How does it all fit in? Just perfectly, thank you!
The different strands go to make a compact body which the players get into and bring alive, with the arrangements adding to the potency. On "The Moon Shows Red (Tzuki...) Jerry Gonzalez sits in on trumpet and Ameen and Hernandez are joined by the Hioyuki Koike quartet, comprised of two violins, a cello and a viola. The strings, arranged by composer Takami Watanabe, are celestial before pirouetting, a swirling assemblage with the drummers adding tonality in pastel shadings. Using the mute, Gonzalez takes another direction, extrapolating into jazz and getting the strings to work in a more passionate ambit. The tune nails it right on!
Ruben Blades brings in a new dimension to "Sympathy for the Devil/El Cielo. He knows how to twist a lyric with his enunciation, which makes the first tune a treat to listen toand when the melody bursts open and undulates for the second tune, the beat is irresistible and absolutely captivating.
Politics have a say, but who's complaining when something like "All Jazz Era (al-jazeera) comes along? Jazz rears resplendently on the edgy tenor saxophone of Bobby Franceschini. He swings, but he is a chameleon, changing tone and shape and unleashing a scream mid-sentence while the rhythm section dips into some straight-ahead accompaniment. Pedro Martinez sings on "La Timba No Es Como Ayer, an off-kilter rumba, with a voice that is gripped in an emotional coil, becoming all the more startling against the minimal drumming.
It is pure delight listening to this record.
Track Listing: Sympathy for the Devil/El Cielo; 3 for Africa; Un Golpecito NaíMas; Richieís Brain; Hit This,
Split This; All Jazz Era (al-jazeera); Blue, Red & White; The Moon Shows Red (Tzuki...); La
Timba Francesca; Far from Beirut (Lino 5); We Got the Fu*k; La Timba No Es Como Ayer;
Apres Midi de Robby & Negro; Hit This, Split This; Argentine Birds in the Morning.
Personnel: Ruben Blades: vocals, coro; Bobby Franceschini: saxes; Pedro Martinez: coro, vocal; Brian
Lynch: trumpet; Luis Perdomo: piano; Ruben Rodriguez: bass; Richie Flores: congas;
Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez: drums, chorus, percussion, clave; Robby Ameen: drums,
timpani; John Beasley: Hammond B-3, Fender Rhodes, piano; Larry Baeder: guitar, chorus;
Orlando Puntillo Rios: vocal, coro, quinto; Roman Diaz: percussion; Innersoul: vocal; Essiet
Essiet: bass; Lincoln Goines: bass; Jerry Gonzalez: trumpet; Marie Daulne: vocal; Yosvany
Terry: saxes; Takami Watanabe: piano; Ann Guichard: voice; and others.