Percussionist John Santos combines traditional Afro-Cuban elements with modern jazz. Formed in 1986, his Machete Ensemble is so-named because of the connotation that tool has woven into Caribbean culture. The machete was used throughout history for harvesting sugar cane, and in certain circumstances also as a weapon during violent confrontations. Representing both sides of the ocean, Afro-Cuban music draws from the collective experience of separate cultures by emphasizing their common factors. Santos’ tribute honors the masters of Afro-Cuban music as well as the fathers of modern jazz. With a fresh big band sound, his 8-piece ensemble blends both the traditional and the contemporary in Afro-Cuban jazz.
Cachao and Chocolate Armenteros sit in for a traditional look on "Himno de las Razas," a Santos composition. Machete regulars Ron Stallings, John Calloway, Melecio Magdaloyo and Wayne Wallace solo around the room and then come together in early bebop harmony for Charlie Parker’s "Moose the Mooche." Tenor saxophonist Stallings, later featured on Syeeda’s Song Flute, embraces Santos and the other percussionists with open arms. They work together as one big happy family. The entrance Orestes Vilató makes after a percussion jam is of particular interest because he restarts the song’s melody for the ensemble to continue – a timbalero playing melody. "So What" and "Tin Tin Deo" offer more solid examples of what Santos means when he says that this project is a tribute to the masters of Afro-Cuban jazz.
I was first exposed to jazz thanks to my Mother (stage name Tobey Castle) who was a professional singer with the Tommy Dorsey band back in the day. Mom sang to me all the time as a little girl, but it never occurred to me to pursue it professionally until I met my husband David
I was first exposed to jazz thanks to my Mother (stage name Tobey Castle) who was a professional singer with the Tommy Dorsey band back in the day. Mom sang to me all the time as a little girl, but it never occurred to me to pursue it professionally until I met my husband David. He encouraged me to become a songwriter and together as co-writers we have written material for two albums and an EP.
As The Brehms, we try to bring a beautiful ambience to any event, and we feel just as comfortable in situations where we are
background ambience, or pushing the energy in a large scale concert, and everything in between.