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Raul da Gama

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Canadian writer. Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a musician and an accomplished writer whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

Bobby Carcassés: De La Habana a Nueva York

The insane revelry of the guaguancó kicks off De La Habana a Nueva York, and produces a blue flame of energy from an all,...

Roberto Fonseca: Akokan

In his follow-up to 2007’s Zamazu (Enja/Justin Time), Cuban piano master, Roberto Fonseca deepens his journey into his quasi-mystical musical search. Like the mythical...

Gabriele Tranchina: A Song of Love’s Color

It appears that exacting pitch is not really important in the grander scheme of things, for Gabriele Tranchina’s singing. Although it seems likely that if she really wanted to this vocalist could nail the exacting pitch of the notes themselves with perfection, Tranchina eschews the exactitude of notation to scale impossible heights of emotion. In this respect she is like a storyteller who uses lyric passages to let tales of longing and other elusive emotions unfold [...]
Omar Sosa & NDR Bigband - Ceremony

Omar Sosa & NDR Big Band: Ceremony

Omar Sosa inhabits two worlds. One in which all humans live and the other is the spirit world. On Ceremony (Music arranged by Jaques Morelenbaum) a record that he made with the NDR Big Band, he has opened the door to both worlds. Moreover, with Jaques Morelenbaum’s masterful arrangements of his (Sosa’s) music these worlds are that much closer. Sosa has been crossing the threshold between this world and the spirit one [...]

Um Abraço Pra Claudio – An Interview with Claudio Roditi

Interview conducted by: Raul da Gama My palms are wet, but I am not nervous—just uncontrollably excited to be talking with Claudio Roditi, an iconic...

Hamilton de Holanda Quintet: Brasilianos 2

The mandolin has barely evolved since its incarnation as a lute in Italy over three hundred years ago. A few more strings may have been added, so that there is now a ten-stringed version; tuning of these strings may have become more creative and different, but the instrument has remained essentially the same. Unlike the violin, its notes decay quicker after they are sounded and cannot usually be sustained after a point. But then you have musicians [...]

Mark Weinstein – Timbasa (JazzHeads – 2010)

It would seem that there is no stopping flutist, Mark Weinstein. While the composer and instrumentalist extraordinaire may not have trumped his awe-inspiring expedition into the realm of improvisation, Tales From The Earth (Ota Records, 2009) his album, Timbasa has certainly turned out to be an alchemist's dream. Who would ever have imagined that Miles Davis' languorous performance of "Milestones" could be regenerated as an extravagant and masterful Afro-Cuban adventure? [...]

Pablo Aslan: Tango Grill

To the unsuspecting ear, Pablo Aslan may sometimes appear to be just a fabulous bassist, with sublime technique and a virtuoso of limitless possibility. But dig a little deeper, especially into this album, Tango Grill and the impossible will seem to appear. Aslan takes the relatively rigid structure of the written music and dance form, the Tango, into a stratospheric space where [...]
Otmaro Ruiz - Sojourn

Otmaro Ruiz Presents Sojourn

The Chambers Dictionary describes the word “sojourn” as “a temporary residence or stay, as of one in a foreign land.” Pianist, Otmaro Ruiz’s musical journey offers all the right cues for his Sojourn being so apt to document, because even though it gets somewhat personal at times, it is one that is memorable for anyone interested in taking the journey with him [...]

Desandann: ¡Pwan Dife! (Light The Flame!)

Thanks to their greatest champions outside Cuba, Jane Bunnett and Larry Cramer, the extraordinary ten-person vocal ensemble, Desandann has returned after a decade with their second, spell-binding album, ¡Pwan Dife! (Light The Flame!). The album was recorded on the back of Bunnett’s brilliant, Juno award-winning album Embracing Voices, (EMI/Sunnyside Records, 2008) [...]

Roberto Fonseca: A Life in the Spirit

The considerable talent of Cuban pianist, Roberto Fonseca has now spread far and wide and if there was another dimension to enter, it would be the one that qualifies an artist to greatness. However, Fonseca fights shy of any attention that distracts from his music. A deeply spiritual person, who just happens to express himself through his art he prefers to defer to the mysterious, invisible force that compels him to make music [...]

Nilson Matta’s Brazilian Voyage – Copacabana (Zoho Music)

How it is possible that Nilson Matta is allowed to fly so under the proverbial radar, with recognition mainly from his peers is one...

Coto Pincheira – The Sonido Moderno Project (Self Produced 2009)

Coto Pincheira, as he prefers being called, has made an enthusiastic impression with The Sonido Modern Project, literally, the Modern Sound Project. This virtuoso pianist, to whom clave comes naturally, has attempted to pour this rollicking backbeat into a cauldron set alight by the vast array of Afro-Caribbean metaphors and rhythms. The result is a molten mix [...]

Brian Lynch Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra: Bolero Nights (for Billie Holliday)

For a fleeting moment -just one fleeting moment- it appears to be a bit of a stretch putting "bolero" and Billie Holiday together...

Mark Levine & The Latin Tinge – Off & On: The Music of Moacir...

If ever a record could be likened to a comet streaking across the musical stratosphere and a long time coming at that, this one...

Sofia Tosello: Alma y Luna

There is a story that bears telling about Brasilian musician and multi-instrumentalist, Egberto Gismonti and his legendary teacher, Nadia Boulanger. Upon hearing him and evaluating his technique and his knowledge of harmonic devices, the story goes that Madame Boulanger said to Gismonti, “Go back and master the music of your country. This will unlock your voice and the world [...]
Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet - Bien Bien

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: Bien Bien!

The music with clave that began with Machito's "Tanga," and George Russell's "Cubana-Be Cubana-Bop" has come a long way. With clave in his soul, trombonist Wayne Wallace proves yet again on his record Bien Bien! that the cheer of the music is truly infectious. Wallace is rare among musicians who can "swing" as well as he can "clave." He has that and all kinds of shuffle [...]
Samuel Quinto Trio - Salsa N Jazz

Samuel Quinto Trio: Salsa’ N Jazz

There is something about this new Brasilian-born pianist, Samuel Quinto that strikes a vibrant chord in the inner ear. Perhaps it has to do with his wonderful grasp of the joy that abounds in the Brasilian northeast… his sense of “alegria.” Perhaps it also has to do with his mature approach, wonderful use of dynamics, his expression and his innate ability to allow the tonal center of his music [...]

Poncho Sanchez: Psychedelic Blues

Few Latin ensembles have continued to play with such elegance, swagger and irresistible sensuality as those put together by Poncho Sanchez for decades. The leader’s ability to wrap his chops around the blues, and keep swing and clave together with attractive simplicity is now quite legendary. At times Sanchez can also blend his bubbling Latin repertoire with forays into a [...]

Benjamim Taubkin – Trio + 1 (Adventure Music 2009)

In music – even in a zone of sublime comfort – a small, unexpected ripple can distrub the ebb and flow of the wave, or groove thereby upsetting the complete sense and flow of the ocean of sound. This happens all the time, and can even stop and start a song in the middle of the first bar. That magical pulse must be felt even before the song begins. If it does not snap in the air [...]