Review by Danilo Navas -
Master percussionist Paoli Mejias belongs to a generation of artists who are redefining puertoricanness in musical terms with their artistry. Mixing diverse Afro-Caribbean styles with global rhythms, based upon traditional/popular puertorican music, bomba, plena, aguinaldo, and holding it all together within the realm of modern jazz, Paoli is at the forefront of creation of an exciting, recognizable sound.
While watching this concert, “Paoli Mejias de Jazzambia a Mi Tambor” three things come to mind.
1. The high level of musicianship of the performers, Paoli’s band and special guests being featured.
2. The high quality, technically speaking, of this superb high definition audio visual creation.
3. The remarkable fact that this is an independent production.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as it’s been the case with the three CDs previously released by Paoli Mejias. Truly a feast for the senses, “Paoli Mejias de Jazzambia a Mi Tambor” doesn’t dissapoint at all, on the contrary, it does live up to the expectations of an increasingly demanding legion of discerning viewers/listeners. Paoli’s followers, and I count myself in, couldn’t be more delighted with this long-awaited live video recording.
“De Jazzambia a Mi Tambor” showcases compositions previously recorded by Mejias on his three albums as a bandleader, plus some new arrangements. There are some memorable, inspired moments in most of the performances, especially on the opening and closing songs.
Diaspora, a composition penned by Miguel Zenón, opens up the concert with a percussive explosion, a trio of djembes led by Paoli. Zenón on alto sax and Yan Artime on piano raise the tension to exhilarating levels. Paoli’s djembe solo closes the song with unparalleled intensity.
Jibarology, a composition by Néstor Toro, is based on a traditional Puertorrican rhythm known as aguinaldo jibaro campesino. Christian Nieves is featured on Puerto Rican cuatro guitar.
Encomienda, another composition written by Miguel Zenón, pairs him up with Jonathan Suazo on alto sax on a tremendous Latin jazz arrangement.
Logos, another composition by Néstor Toro, is a fusion of various forms of Mediterranean rhytms, featuring Mejias on congas first and then fiercely soloing on timbales.
El Cacique Rebelde is a progressive Afro-jazz composition by bassist Aldemar Valentín that features L. Raúl Romero on guitar.
Seres is a composition by L. Raúl Romero. An experimental bomba of Loiza featuring Paoli on tambor primo, Amarilys Rios on vocals, Ricardo Pons and Norberto “Tiko” Ortiz on soprano sax and bomba dancer Manuel Carmona.
Rumba 7x 4 with Yuba-Ire is a composition by Paoli Mejias that features Afro-Caribbean folkloric group Yuba-Iré. Rumba dancers Jhan Lee Aponte, Yinaidarys Rivera, Jorvian Santana and Vivian Ayala add color and dimension to this terrific performance.
Hello Nany is a composition by pianist Yan Carlos Artime, who’s joined by Paoli on a heartfelt duet. This song is dedicated to Paoli’s father. Artime’s piano execution engages on a sublime performance with Mejias’ masterful bongo playing.
Metafísica Ancestral, composed by Paoli Mejías and Pável Urkiza, arranged by Urkiza and orchestrated by Javier Curet is a bomba canción that showcases Paoli and Amarilys Ríos Rosa, on vocals first and then on bomba drums. Prodigious six-year old bomba dancer Jenielys Villafañe Bultrón shines on this track.
Oye Como Suena, composed by Paoli Mejías and arranged by Ricardo Pons is a classical descarga that features NG2 singers Norberto Vélez and Gerardo Rivas improvising as true soneros. Javier Oquendo on bongos, Daniel Diaz on timbales and Mejias on congas, have each one their turn to shine on their instruments.
The concert comes to an electrifying closing with Vengan Leones, a traditional plena composition written by Mejías and arranged by Ricardo Pons. It features Tito Matos on pandero. Matos, who is recognized as one of the best requinto players of his generation, leads an ensemble of seasoned pleneros who join Paoli’s band and all the special guests, contributing to set the stage on fire.
Buy De Jazzambia A Mi Tambor El Concierto online at www.filmbaby.com/films/5914
Paoli Mejias’ official website: www.paolimejias.com
Screenshot from track 1: Diaspora (left to right: Japhet Murguia, Paoli Mejias and Daniel Diaz on djembe)
Screenshot from track 2: Jibarology (Alex “Apolo” Ayala on bass, Christian Nieves on Puerto Rican cuatro guitar, Paoli Mejias on congas)
Screenshot from track 3: Encomienda (Miguel Zenón on alto sax)
Screenshot from track 4: Logos (Raúl Maldonado on drums, Paoli Mejias on timbales)
Screenshot from track 5: El Cacique Rebelde (Raúl Maldonado on drums, Christian Nieves on electric guitar, Paoli Mejias on congas)
Screenshot from track 6: Seres (at the front: Amarilys Rios on vocals, bomba dancer Manuel Carmona)
Screenshot from track 7: Rumba 7×4 with-Yuba Ire (Rumba dancers Jhan Lee Aponte, Yinaidarys Rivera, Jorvian Santana and Vivian Ayala)
Screenshot from track 8: Hello Nany (Yan Carlos Artime on piano, Paoli Mejias on bongos)
Screenshot from track 9: Metafisica Ancestral (bomba dancer Jenielys Villafañe Bultrón, Paoli and Amarilys Ríos Rosa on bomba drums)
Screenshot from track 10: Como Suena (Gerardo Rivas, Wichy Camacho, Norberto Vélez on vocals)
Screenshot from track 11: Vengan Leones (Tito Matos on pandero, with the whole band)
Notes taken from the disc jacket and Paoli Mejias’ official website: www.paolimejias.com
This live recording is a captivating musical journey of Paoli’s evolution as musician, bandleader, and composer. Paoli documents a historical moment in Latin jazz, celebrating the diversity of his Puerto Rican heritage and showcasing the rich talent of the new generation of musicians in Puerto Rico.
Musicians: Percussion Paoli Mejias, Alto Sax Miguel Zenon & Jonathan Suazo, Bass Alex Apolo Ayala & Aldemar Valentin, Piano Yan Carlos Artime, Cuatro Puertorriqueño Christian Nieves, Drums Raul Maldonado, Tenor Sax & Soprano Ricardo Pons, Soprano Sax Norberto Tiko Ortiz, Trompet Luis Aquino, Invited Vocalists NG2 Norberto Velez & Gerardo Rivas, Guitar Raul Romero, Vocalist & Percussion Amarilys Rios, Chorus Wichy Camacho, Yuba-Ire, Invited Percussionists Diego Centeno, Javier Oquendo, Jafet Murguia, Daniel Diaz, Invited Pleneros Tito Matos, Luis Lagarto, Johnsito Rivera, Eric Marrero, Charlie Pizarro, Yoksan Ramos
Dancers: Jenielys Villafañe Bultrón, Manuel Carmona, Vivian Ayala, Jhan Lee Aponte, Jorvian Santana
Production: Film & Sound by Javier Hernandez, Production Assistant Anilyn Diaz
Executive Producers: Paoli Mejias & Sarah Vogel
Recorded at Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico June 14-15, 2011
Independently produced by Paoli Mejias
NOTE OF APPRECIATION FROM PAOLI: To me this project represents the greatest demonstration of brotherhood among exceptional musicians and some extraordinary people. This experience was a fraternal embrace between a group of dear individuals who have been supporting me unconditionally since my first CD. Without them, I would not have been able to achieve what I have achieved up to now. They are witnesses of the great sacrifice we have undertaken in order to bring our music to this high level in a critical time for musicians and artists. It has been to contribute without expecting anything in exchange, in hopes that someday this moment here documented will have a historical value for the next generation. Being able to bring together on one stage a generation of young musicians who are the future of this music alongside other experienced and renowned veteran musicians made this concert a bond of camaraderie and humility which is what I want to endure in our island of Puerto Rico and the world. I express this with all my heart, that this was a unique moment of pure energy, but with a natural fluidity that clearly reflects an environment of peace, harmony and much happiness. This is the direct expression of our being when we do what we love with others who have the same passion for the music and life itself.
Lastly, I would like to thank all those who buy this original DVD. Thanks to the people who from my first CD Mi Tambor, followed by Transcend and then Jazzambia, and now this DVD, have preferred to buy the original product so that I can continue to offer my musical projects in the highest quality possible, all created and produced independently by me. It is for these individuals who have supported me until now that I have decided to produce this project exclusively in Blu-ray format and mixed in 5.1 Surround Sound; because you deserve the best. You demand quality each time you purchase my CD or DVD. For your support, here for you is the highest quality in images and sound, and most importantly music.