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Kip Hanrahan has done it again. In his various musical projects, Hanrahan has repeatedly demonstrated an amazing talent at bringing together performers to make magicwithout necessarily playing a note himself. His production of Deep Rumba's 1998 record Esta Noche Se Vuelva Una Rumba (This Night Becomes a Rumba) marked a high point in the exposition of the uniquely Cuban artform known as the rumba. The centerpiece of the record was a tight and authentic group of rhythm players, who offered a group percussion sound in the spirit of West African drum ensembles, but with the particular flavor of the Cuban tradition. The debut record by this group was somewhat obscured by the sea of hubbub in the US surrounding music by the Buena Vista Social Club and the Afro-Cuban All-Stars. Traditional Cuban music experienced a high point in North American recognition, and Deep Rumba found itself caught up in the wave.
For the sequel recording, Alto En La Fiebre De La Rumba (A Calm in the Fire of Dances), Hanrahan has reassembled most of the musicians who performed on the first disc. The exceptional production on Alto reveals a crisp, detailed, and dynamic sound image. One can appreciate this recording on three levels. First, the amazing focused intensity of the percussionwhich offers density and detail without clouding over or wandering off track. (Credit Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez and Robby Ameen for anchoring the drums on Alto.) Second, the organic melodic flavorlargely derived from the warm vocals of Xiomara Lugart and Orlando "Puntilla" Rios, as well as the full-bodied tenor saxophone of Charles Neville. And third, the vocal celebration of rhythm, love, and lifewhich is unfortunately largely lost on me because of my rudimental mastery of conversational Spanish. But one does not need to speak the language to understand the deeper statement communicated by these artists. They speak a musical dialect with universal appeal, offering a message that bears repeated listeningand, on occasion, compels one to get up and shake a little booty. Thanks, Mr. Hanrahan.
Track Listing: Cubana; Medley: Robby and Negro Opening Time--Pensamiento; bom bom bom bom; Prelude to Un Golpecito
Na'Ma; Kip Quest; Quimbara 2000; Charles and Andy Discuss the Science of Voodoo and the Voodoo of Science;
Besame Mucho; Tradicion; Sugar and Cotton (Black Hands in White Labor); Cantar Maravilloso; Giovannito;
Arabian Nights; El Solo Nińo; Yambu de als Cocas; Work and Play.
Personnel: Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, Robby Ameen, Xiomara Lougart, Orlando "Puntillo" Rios, Charles Neville, Andy Gonzalez, Alfredo Triff, Richie Flores, Paoli Mejias, Haila Monpie, Giovanni Hidalgo, Amadito Valdez, Abraham Rodriguez, Roman Diaz, Charlie Flores, Pedro Martinez, Kip Hanrahan.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.