Review written by: Wilbert Sostre
Master percussionist, Sammy Figueroa is a two times Grammy nominee and member of Sonny Rollins band. With these credentials it is no surprise that his third release Urban Nature is an album full of intense harmonic and rhythmic music and outstanding compositions, starting with the fast paced opening track “Gufillo”, a composition of Venezuelan pianist Sivano Monasterios. Figueroa is one of those musicians who know when to turn up the energy with virtuosic displays and when to turn it down and go with the flow of the music. No doubt Figueroa is the heart and soul of the band, but he allows the outstanding musicians of the Latin Jazz Explosion to shine.
For this album bassist Gabriel Vivas wrote the cha chas, “Cha cha pa ti” and “Urban Nature”, a more relaxed piece with exceptional melodic solos by saxophonist John Michalak and pianist Silvano Monasterios. Vivas also contributes the latin jazz tracks “Funny Talk” and “Latin What” a piece that at times seems to ventures into the Bomba rhythms from Puerto Rico. Michalak adds some inventive and high energy improvisations on this one.
In “Zuliana”, a sublime composition by pianist Silvano Monasterios, and on the latin jazz track “7th door to the left” also by Monasterios, the melodies and rhythms echoes the sounds of Venezuelan music.
The contagious rhythms of “Cuco y Olga” are pure salsa, a music style with origins intimate related with Latin jazz. Alexander Pope Norris shines with some thoughtful solos on this one.
Track Listing: 1. Gufillo; 2. Urban Nature; 3. Latin what?; 4. Zuliana; 5. 7th door to the left; 6. Cuco y Olga; 7. Queen from the south; 8. Funny Talk
Personnel: Sammy Figueroa – percussion, Silvano Monasterios – piano, Gabriel Vivas – bass, John Michalak – saxophones, Alexander Pope Norris – trumpet, Nomar Negroni – drums
Related links: Sammy Figueroa on the web: www.sammyfigueroa.com