Afro-Cuban All Stars Absolutely Live II DM Ahora! Productions
You can find many groups who call themselves "Afro-Cuban All Stars
." But few have the pedigree of this ensemble led by vocalist Juan De Marcos Gonzalez
, co-architect of the legendary Cuban roots Buena Vista Social Club
sessions (1997, Nonesuch/Elektra) and dubbed by Downbeat
as "the Quincy Jones
of Cuban music." Marcos' first new music in six years comprises highlights from the All-Stars' engagement at an international music festival in Guanajuato (Mexico); this CD provides the audio companion to the DVD of that performance.
In a multicolored, multicultural celebration, Absolutely Live II
surveys five genres of Cuban music and their connections to New Orleans and other jazz sources. The opening "Yaimara's Groove" immediately pulls you into their party: This thick and pungent musical gumbo uses a cool Latin groove as stock, tosses in visionary vibraphone, piano and trumpet solos, then simmers to Afro-Cuban perfection. It's as if "Yaimara's Groove" is the name of the coolest Cuban eatery on Bourbon Street and the buffet is open all night long.
de Marcos' original "Camino de Santiago" also reaches into the Creole district of New Orleans with a resounding piano riff that burns through all sides like an ember, dark and hot, the sound of pianist Horace Silver
sitting in with a Cuban orchestra. As the lead solo and ensemble reply vocals grow more fevered, the instrumental ensemble pours on accelerant and then a burning trumpet solo strikes the match.
Ensemble horns do more than simply open the son "Tumba y Bongo," they blast it out of a cannon. Trumpet and piano soloists bob and weave as if they were parading the ensemble in and out of a summer shower of soft, ringing vibes. Like most of these tunes, "Tumba" builds in vocal and instrumental intensity the longer it continues, with bongos, congas and timbales popping in and out of the breaks to keep its powerful groove unbroken, and trumpet blowing like Dizzy Gillespie
, high and hot.
The epic, twelve-minute jam "La Mujer del Barbaro" closes like the colorful climactic dance in a movie musical. It brings the curtain down on Absolutely Live II
in a kaleidoscopic swirl of piano and vocals and percussion and horns, all bouncing off each other and lighting up your ears like a shower of Afro-Cuban jazz (all-) stars. Gabriel Alegría Afro-Peruvian Sextet Diablo en Brooklyn Saponegro Records
2017 Gabriel Alegria
is proud of the first five recordings by his Afro-Peruvian Sextet, but he's more proud of his sixth, Diablo en Brooklyn
, than the rest. First, it's his first Sextet release completely recorded in Peru. Second, it reprises in-concert versions of band originals released on previous albums plus a twelve-minute hothouse expedition through the Gershwins' "Summertime," interspersed with a four-movement "Brooklyn Suite" loosely based on the "Son de los Diablos" tradition where mock devils parade through the streets of Lima.
But most importantly, on Diablo en Brooklyn
, Alegría explains, "We went back to the essence of the sextet. The six core members. This album represents what Afro-Peruvian jazz music and a bicultural ensemble can contribute to the world." (Yellowjackets
keyboardist Russell Ferrante
returns from the Sextet's previous, tenth-anniversary release 10
[2015, Zoho Records] for several Diablo
"One of us can phrase a written piece of music differently than it appears on the page and without any discussion someone else can phrase it differently in the same way, in real time. This happens routinely and it's a pretty special thing to achieve," Alegría proudly notes. "We really are as much a family as a band."
There's so much music on Diablo en Brooklyn
that your ears hardly know where to begin. Buzzsaw electric guitars pry open the churning, troublesome rhythm of "Caras II," while the "El Norte" guitar plays surrounded by a swirling, buzzing beehive of percussion.
Trumpet sets up and downshifts "Summertime" into a twelve-minute, slow-rolling blues moan which culminates in a trumpet-saxophone melodic duet so purposefully wobbly that it sounds like a pair of drunks singing the night's final tune at last call. Even if you've already heard this Gershwin classic one thousand times, Alegría's reconstruction is a great reason to make it one thousand and one.
The four-part "Brooklyn Suite" turns Diablo
from good to great. For "Part 3" (which comes first), Alegría asked electric guitarist Jocho Velázquez to play "as though B.B. King
was combined with Oscar Aviles" (one of Peru's folk guitar legends). Velázquez digs into a deep, funky guitar-organ groove with Ferrante, broadly colored by ensemble horns that eventually march to a kettle-ratting drumbeat through the streets of New Orleans.
Powerful, brooding, bombastic yet meticulous (and uncredited) basslines drive the Suite's other three parts and concert performance of "Buscando a Huevito" into more dark and sinister sonic places, and conjure the inscrutable, spiritual moodiness of Charles Mingus
"We're definitely on a crusade to spread Afro-Peruvian jazz music to the world," Alegría says. "We want it to become part of the language of jazz, and the more we play it and the more feedback we get, the more confident we become that this will be the case." Da Cruz Eco Do Futuro Boom Jah Records
The chronology: Eco Do Futuro
is the fifth album by the band named for leader and vocalist Mariana Da Cruz. All four previous Da Cruz releases reached the US college radio chart top ten; they recorded all five in their own studio, Boom Jah Studios in Switzerland.
The music: "Da Cruz is the collision of various elements that seem incompatible at first glance," Mariana suggests, and Eco Do Futuro
sure seems to scream howling into your ears from out of nowhere. Legend maintains that instrumentalist-producer Ane H., vocalist for late-1980s Swiss industrial music pioneers Swamp Terrorists, met Da Cruz while she was singing bossa nova in an Irish pub; the duo soon recruited former Swamp Terrorists drummer Pit Lee, and guitarist Oliver Husman later completed the core quartet. On Eco
, saxophonist Daniel Durrer and trumpeter Niklaus Hürny
squeal and honk (squonk?) out more jazzy contributions.
From the opening "País do Futuro," Mariana's roaring, cooing, purring, soaring voice suggests a young Chaka Khan
's, floating above yet digging into the music, while harmonizing horns dance into an African horizon. Guitarist Husman and drummer Lee drive "Sinhá Mandou" with the African funk rhythms and sounds that David Byrne so famously (and often) appropriated for Talking Heads. Durrer's saxophone scrambles the break into musical froth, while electronic effects on Hürny's trumpet sound like Jon Hassell
wandering into a Brazilian disco and further this Byrne/Heads connection.
"Fama de Bacana" pulls these Africanisms into a darker, more electronic jungle sound that slowly grows from skeletal electronics into a thick and lusty groove, while "Centro do Mundo" bounces as a celebration song off of the drummer's rocking and rolling, Columbian cumbia beats. Eco Do Futuro
introduces sounds and rhythms from the African diaspora into Da Cruz's glistening, seamless blend of Brazilian and European dance and club music and, with them, their music sounds more full and complete. Mauricio de Souza
's Bossa Brazil Trajetórias Pitoca Music
The quiet masterpiece Trajetórias
captures drummer, composer, arranger and bandleader Mauricio de Souza
leading his jazz ensemble Bossa Brazil in a beautiful live performance through Brazilian pop and jazz classics from the pens of such legends as Antonio Carlos Jobim
, Hermeto Pascoal
, Milton Nascimento
and Pat Metheny
Producer de Souza envelops each live performance in the clear sound of a classic 1970s Creed Taylor
CTI Records production: crisp but not cold, detailed but not cluttered, cool but not icy.
Bossa Brazil surrounds drummer de Souza with extraordinary musicianship. Bob Rodriguez
pours waves and ripples of cool electric keyboards into three quintet tunes: a sparkling solo waterfall for "Bebê" (Pascoal), more jazzy interplay with the saxophonist in Nascimento's classic Baião "Vera Cruz," and a more extensive exploration, shimmering waves of Bob James
' sound, in this waltz through "Chovendo Na Roseira" (Jobim).
No disrespect intended, but vibraphonist Jerry Weir
plays so sympathetically with the other musicians in the quartet pieces that keyboards might sound redundant. "Vera Cruz" seems to rise like a mountain through his vibes' sound cloud, and "Chovendo Na Roseira" nestles to rest upon the sonic pillow of the ensembles' harmonized keyboard, saxophone and vibes sound. Vibes lead the way as the band rips through Jobim's "Red Blouse" with jumping and inviting tones. Throughout this set, Weir demonstrates all the funk and finesse of mallet masters Gary Burton
and Victor Feldman
On the subject of masters, alto saxophonist Dmitry Baevsky
sweeps and glides through these melodies with Paul Desmond
's clear and dry, more sophisticated than smooth martini sound, steering the band's melodic course between Brazilian and jazz music. He's immediately showcased in the opening "Vivo Sonhando" (Jobim), deftly navigating between the sounds of romance and the blues, and slowly unravels Jobim's bossa nova "Fotografia" as if gently awakening it from a nap, painting in the languid, luxurious colors of a Brazilian beach.
Best of all, de Souza proves to be a genuine master of Brazilian and jazz drumming. The leader's drums are the essential force that organizes and drives "Bebê," and after bassist Gary Mazzaroppi
completes its encyclopedic round of instrumental solos, de Souza calls "Fotografia" back to order with one simple, masterful stroke. He stretches out "Vera Cruz" to more than twelve minutes with a drum solo that creates from overlapping rolls and counterrhythms a sound and pulse which rise like a ghost over the bandstand. Just like the leader's playing, if not the entire ensemble's, Trajetórias
is a quiet, understated masterpiece that exponentially rewards repeated listens. Pacific Mambo Orchestra Live from Stern Grove Festival Pacific Mambo Records
Putting together your follow-up can't be easy when your self-produced, self-titled debut wins the notoriously competitive Best Tropical Latin Album GRAMMY® Award. Where could trumpeter Steffen Kuehn (from Germany) and pianist Christian Tumulan (from Mexico) lead the Pacific Mambo Orchestra
(PMO) from there?
Tumulan and Kuehn smartly construct PMO's second release to do what they do best: They go big, with some songs ringing out with up to twenty instrumental and human voices. They go long, bookending seven live performances with vocal and instrumental studio versions of the Japanese traditional "Sakura" and inserting a howling studio take on Earth Wind & Fire's "Getaway." And they go hard, powered by an incendiary Latin percussion section (timbalero Omar Ledezma Jr. from Venezuela, bongo expert Braulio Barrera from Peru, and Bay area congero Javier Cabanillas
They blow like possessed madmen, in fact, pretty much throughout Live from Stern Grove Festival
. The band's collective credentials include work with a constellation of jazz, Latin and Latin jazz greats including Jerry Gonzalez
and the Fort Apache Band
, Pharoah Sanders
, Taj Mahal
, Cedar Walton
, Jamaaladeen Tacuma
and Carlos Santana
, and even though their material focuses on danceable hot mambo, most musicians in the ensemble burn through their individual parts with smoking jazz chops.
Two live tunes feature percussionist Sheila E.
(or, as she's introduced, "The First Lady of 'El Timbal'") on timbales. She leads the PMO as they shred Tito Puente
's "Ran Kan Kan," horns burning so hot they leave blisters on the rhythm section, while Tumulan's piano cranks up the heat behind "Mona Lisa," a twirling Latin dance about a woman's burning desire to salsa. Most importantly, it sounds like the PMO had a blast ripping up these two tunes, and this recording allows that fun sound to stream through.
PMO powerfully deliver (Orquestra La 33's arrangement of) the "Pink Panther Mambo" with horns and percussion blasting Henry Mancini
}'s classic slinky, easy listening theme groove into a torrid dance number. "Getaway" proves even more inspired, exposing an Afro-Cuban heart beating within Earth Wind & Fire's original and then blasting off like a funk rocket. While these two covers deliver Live from Stern Grove Festival
's most transcendent moments, its real star is the magnificent Pacific Mambo Orchestra.
Sabrina Malheiros Clareia Far Out Recordings
Although Sabrina Malheiros is best known for Brazilian dancefloor hits, Clareia
crafts a smooth, warm and mellow expedition through the soul music of her homeland. Clareia
also brings together different neo-global-soul generations and geographies: The soulstress either wrote every song alone; with her father Alex, bassist in Brazilian fusion legends Azymuth
(who also contributes bass and guitar); or with co-producer Daniel Maunick ("Dokta Venom"), whose father Bluey
leads London's soul-jazz mainstays Incognito
is the summation of many seemingly small things done well, especially by wind players Leo Gandelman
and Marcelo Martins and pianist/keyboardist Kiko Cantinentino (also on loan from Azymuth). In the bright "Celebrar," a colorful musical beachball that bounces on a shoreline breeze, flute dances with Malheiros's voice in the same light and airy, beautifully Brazilian sound. "Renascerá" uses sleigh bells (honest!) as the shimmering bridge between its instrumental introduction and first vocal verse; they come back in later with percussion, bells and cymbals to polish "Renascerá" from the inside out.
"Ultraleve" sounds both primal and exotic, with the Azymuth stablemates ripping up and throwing down riffs. Acoustic guitarist Ze Carlos Santos (who the singer calls "the best guitarist I have ever worked with") subtly shades her wispy vocal in "Em Paz," delicately dusted with twinkling stardust from counterpointing acoustic piano. "Vam' Bora" is a lot of fun for a long slow moan, its guitar warbling rubbery and wobbly acoustic blues, first doubling her voice and then slithering through this brassy, bluesy melody. Clareia
crosses and connects musical genres and generations with dexterity and grace. "I hope Clareia
brightens the soul of whoever listens to it. That's the spirit of this album," Sabrina suggests.
"The album's title represents an appeal to the minds of our civilization today," concurs Papa Alex, "to clear our thoughts for good and for peace." Various Artists ANDINA: The Sound of the Peruvian Andes Tiger's Milk
captures The Sound of the Peruvian Andes
from vinyl singles originally released by Sono Radio, Iempsa, El Virrey and other Peruvian labels from 1968 to 1978, a most tumultuous social/musical decade. The first installment in a new Tiger's Milk Records compilation series, assembled by Tiger's Milk co-founders Duncan Ballantyne and Martin Morales with Peruvian musical expert DJ Andres Tapia del Rio, ANDINA
continues the label's regional exploration of the unique musical roots and fruits of Peru (which already includes Peru Boom
, Peru Maraviloso and Peru Bravo
serves up Peruvian musical tapas, offering numerous small platters of many distinctive, sometimes overlapping, flavors and tastes. "Andina means lady from the Andes, or a dish, or a song," Morales explained to Billboard
's release. "You need to wiggle your hips to something, and you also need to cry. It's a tough landscape; you need your own blues."
Electric guitars snake the cumbia rhythm into several singles, such as "Todos Vuelven," a 1943 hit single updated for the Age of Aquarius by cumbia group Los Walkers de Huánuco (and revisited in the 1980s by Rubén Blades
). "Zelenita del Año 2000" (Los Bilbao) opens with that trebly, trembling cumbia guitar hook but is quickly overrun by a downpour of bass and percussion; the centering bass sound allows the percussionist (especially the timbalero) to freely dance around its edges.
Other selections center more upon piano than guitar, such as Manolo Avalos' "Rio de Paria," which sounds like a recitation of traditional or folk music; and the call and response chattering between orchestral horns and piano in "Caymeñita," cumbia plus brass led by pianist Lucho Neves. The sound and ensemble grow even bigger in "Perla Andina," a broadly-drawn, formal-sounding ode to the Andes mountains from Alicia Maguiña con Mario Cavagnaro y su Sonora Sensación.
Through the beneficent lens of retrospect, ANDINA
in turns sounds raw, elegant, naïve, and unconqueredin other words, like a genuine celebration of the joyously messy human spirit.
Tracks and Personnel: Absolutely Live II
Tracks: Yaimara's Groove; Barbaridad; Tumba y Bongo; Camino de Santiago; Ahora me da Pena; El Cuarto de Tula; Candela; La Mujer del Barbaro.
Personnel: Gabriel Hernandez: piano; Alberto Pantaleón: bass; Gliceria Gonzalez: vibraphone, keyboards, backing vocals; Yoanny Pino: trumpet, flugelhorn; Yaure Muñiz: trumpet, flugelhorn; Igort Rivas: trumpet, flugelhorn; Tony Moreaux: bongos, cowbell; Rolando "Niño Mentira" Salgado: congas; Antonio "Pachá" Portuondo: timbales; Emilio Suárez: vocals; Evelio Galán: vocals; Juan de Marcos: vocals, hand percussion; Gilito Piñera: vocals, hand percussion; Gliceria Abreu: hand percussion; Gliceria Gonzalez: hand percussion. Diablo en Brooklyn
Tracks: Caras II (Live); Part 3 -The Brooklyn Suite; Buscando a Huevito (Live); The Brooklyn Suite -Part 2; Summertime (Live); Part 4 -The Brooklyn Suite; El Norte (Live); The Brooklyn Suite -Part 1.
Personnel: Gabriel Alegria: trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals; Laura Andrea Leguia: soprano sax, tenor sax, baritone sax, vocals; Freddie "Huevito" Lobatón: cajón, quijada, cajita, campana, vocals; Yuri Juárez: acoustic guitar, electric guitar; Hugo Alcázar: drums, vocals; Russell Ferrante: keyboards; Jocho Velázquez: electric guitar. Eco Do Futuro
Tracks: País do Futuro; Virose; Visitar América; Sinhá Mandou; Babilonia SP; Nossa Maneira; Negra Sim; Número Um; Centro do Mundo; Guerreira; Uma Loba; Mina Luanda; Fama de Bacana; Pobre Mentality.
Personnel: Mariana Da Cruz: vocals; Ane H.: programming; Pit Lee: drums, percussion; Oliver Husmann: guitars; Niklaus Hürny: trumpet; Daniel Durrer: saxophones; Christian Sommerhalder: guitars; Toni Schiavano: bass; Marc Stucki: saxophones; Tony Allen & Drumdrops: drums. Trajetórias
Tracks: Vivo Sonhando; Bebê; Fotografia; Red Blouse; Vera Cruz; Spring Ain't Here; Caminhos Cruzados; Chovendo Na Roseira; Inútil Paisagem; band introductions.
Personnel: Maurício de Souza: drums; Dmitry Baevsky: alto sax; Jerry Weir: vibraphone; Bob Rodriguez: keyboards; Gary Mazzaroppi: acoustic bass. Live from Stern Grove Festival
Tracks: Sakura (Prelude); Sakura (featuring Nora Suzuki); Naturaleza (Live); Ran Kan Kan (Live) [featuring Sheila E.]; Getaway; Mona Lisa (Live) [featuring Sheila E.]; Querer Como Ayer (Live); Pacific Mambo Dance No. 2 (featuring DJ Good Sho); Pink Panther Mambo (Live) [featuring Marlow Rosado]; Serenity (Live); Storm (Live); Sakura (Instrumental).
Personnel: Christian Tumalan: piano, keyboards, rhythm programming; Steffen Kuehn: trumpet; Louis Fasman: lead trumpet; Jeff Lewis: trumpet; Jonathan Ruff: trumpet; Pete Cornell: alto saxophone, alto flute; Doug Rowan: soprano saxophone, alto flute; Benny Torres: tenor saxophone, flute; Tony Peebles: tenor saxophone; Aaron Lington: baritone saxophone; Derek James: lead trombone; Jason Thor: trombone; Mara Fox: trombone; Jamie Dubberly: trombone; Julio de la Cruz: baby bass, electric bass; Javier Cabanillas: Peruvian cajon, congas; Omar Ledezma, Jr.: timbales, vocals; Braulio Barrera: bongos, campana, vocals; Carlos Caro: congas, guiro, guira; Armando Cordoba: maracas, vocals; Diego Zumaran: guitar; Alex Morales: vocals; Nora Suzuki: vocals; Sheila E.: vocals, timbales; Marlow Rusado: piano. Clareia
Tracks: Celebrar; Clareia; Em Paz; Porto Do Sol; Salve O Mar; Sol, Céu E Mar; Vam' Bora; Vai, Maria; Renascerá; Sandorê; Ultraleve.
Personnel: Kiko Continentino: fender rhodes, organ, piano, synthesizer; Leo Gandleman: brass arrangements, flute, saxophone; Jakaré: percussion; Alex Malheiros: bass, double bass, acoustic guitar, background vocals; Sabrina Malheiros: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals; Marcelo Martins: brass arrangements, flute; Daniel "Venom" Maunick: arrangements, brass arrangements, mixing, programming, scratching, synthesizers; Ian Moreira: percussion; Ze Carlos Santos: acoustic guitar; Jakaré: percussion. ANDINA: The Sound of the Peruvian Andes
Tracks: La Chichera (Los Demonios del Mantaro); La Mecedora (Los Compadres del Ande); Todos Vuelven (Los Walkers de Huánuco); Recuerda Corazón (La Peruanita); Loca Loquita (Los Bárbaros del Centro); El Lorcho (Los Compadres del Ande); Zelenita del Año 2000 (Los Bilbao); Rio de Paria (Manolo Avalos); Caymeñita (Lucho Neves y su Orquesta); Descarga Huanuqueña (Los Jelwees); Cholita (Los Sabios Del Ritmo); Perla Andina (Alicia Maguiña con Mario Cavagnaro y su Sonora Sensación); Mi Casacancha (Conjunto Los Luceritos de Casacancha); Cumbia en los Andes (Huiro y su Conjunto); Agua Dulce (Los Turistas del Mantaro); Le Celosa (Los Bárbaros del Centro (La Celosa); Toyascha (Conjunto Kori Cinta de Huancavelica).
Personnel: Los Demonios del Mantaro (La Chichera); Los Compadres del Ande (La Mecedora); Los Walkers de Huánuco (Todos Vuelven); La Peruanita (Recuerda Corazón); Los Bárbaros del Centro (Loca Loquita); Los Compadres del Ande (El Lorcho); Los Bilbao (Zelenita del Año 2000); Manolo Avalos (Rio de Paria); Lucho Neves y su Orquesta (Caymeñita); Los Jelwees (Descarga Huanuqueña); Los Sabios Del Ritmo (Cholita); Alicia Maguiña con Mario Cavagnaro y su Sonora Sensación (Perla Andina); Conjunto Los Luceritos de Casacancha (Mi Casacancha); Huiro y su Conjunto (Cumbia en los Andes); Los Turistas del Mantaro (Agua Dulce); Los Bárbaros del Centro (Le Celosa); Conjunto Kori Cinta de Huancavelica (Toyascha).