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.
The best show I ever attended was the Zawinul Syndicate at the Blue Note in 1997. Being the youngest kids in the room, the host put us right in front of the band. The afro-beat electric set blew the roof off the building, an unforgettable sound
The best show I ever attended was the Zawinul Syndicate at the Blue Note in 1997. Being the youngest kids in the room, the host put us right in front of the band. The afro-beat electric set blew the roof off the building, an unforgettable sound. After, my girlfriend and I just sauntered up the stairs to the green room to meet the
band. I posed for a picture with Joe, after talking a little bit about boxing and how to stay healthy while the other guys in the band tore through a bucket of fried