Miguel de Armas Quartet: What’s to Come

The pianist Miguel de Armas is blessed with a magnificent tumbao and he uses it to great effect on What’s to Come. But if you thought that he is sticking within his comfort zone on this recording, then you would be dead wrong because clearly not afraid to step out, to invent – very organically, it must be said – outside the Afro-Caribbean idiom and yet stay true to his roots in a refreshing, forward-thinking manner. His use of electronic instruments – especially the synthesizer – is rather effective and while he may not be the first to add splashes of vivid colour and stretch the sonic palette of his music, he certainly makes every sound from the instrument work very well for him and his music, especially when the drama of musical narratives unfold as piano and keyboards collide to produce a refreshing wave of harmonics.

Miguel de Armas is a sincere and persuasive musician. His pianism is suffused with a panoply of colours and his touch is at the soft end of the spectrum, although it has a subtle and percussive touch and always conveys his music so luminously. The music doesn’t often raise its voice much and even when it does, the narratives are skillfully crafted to maintain a certain expressive decorum. An attractive feature of Miguel de Armas’ music is that he alters harmonies and structural elements with impressive control, heading in directions that surprise and captivate the ear. The danzón “La Dama y el Perro”, “Rumba on Kent St.” and “Tango Asunción” are fine examples of such restraint. The use of bátà on “Freddie’s Drink” adds much to the rollicking rhythm of the piece.

In those and all the other works on this album, Miguel de Armas performs with consummate artistry, blending superior control and tonal lucidity with a cohesive sense of line and motion. The pianist’s music could hardly be better served than by his brilliantly schooled quartet as well as by a constellation of stars who have joined in to celebrate this music: and these include Jane Bunnett on soprano saxophone, the fiercely brilliant bassist, Roberto Riverón, guitarists Elmer Ferrer and Galen Weston, superb accordionist Alexandre Laborde and the fiery trumpeter Alexis Baró. All of the musicians engage in a skillful and rigorous manipulation of the material in the most listenable light possible, while also making it more vibrant than ever.

Track list – 1: Yasmina; 2: A Song for My Little Son; 3: La Dama y el Perro; 4: His Bass and Him; 5: Pam Pim Pam Pum; 6: Illusion; 7: What’s to Come; 8: Rumba on Kent St. 9: Tango Asunción; 10: Freddie’s Drink

Personnel – Miguel de Armas: piano and keyboards; Michel Medrano: drums and percussion; Marc Decho: bass (solo – 2 – 4), (5, 7, 9); Arien Villegas: congas (5); Guests: Alexis Baró: trumpet and flugelhorn (1); Roberto Riverón: contrabass (1); Carlitos Medrano: congas and percussion (1, 3, 5, 8 10); Elmer Ferrer: electric guitar (2); Mathieu Sénéchal: bass (4, 8, 10); Galen Weston: electric guitar (4); Jane Bunnett: soprano saxophone (7)

Released – 2017
Label – Independent
Runtime – 47:22

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

More from author


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related posts


Featured Posts

Omara Portuondo, Multifaceted Gem of Cuban Music

My moon app announces that in 14 hours the Supermoon of May will be here. During a full moon I often get inspired to...

Ray Barretto · Barretto Power

Barretto Power: A Celebratory Reissue on its 50th Anniversary It was 1970 when Fania Records released Barretto Power, one of a series of seminal albums...

El Gran Fellové: Part 3- When my Parents…

When my parents bought their home in 1968, Sunset Beach was just another sleepy little beach town It spanned about one mile in length, sandwiched...

El Gran Fellové: Part 2- Enter Chocolate & Celio González

Early Sunday morning… I awoke to the pleasant surprise of a Google Alert in my email. I clicked to find Variety Magazine had published an...

El Gran Fellové: Part 1- The Beginning

Francisco Fellové Valdés (October 7, 1923 – February 15, 2013), also known as El Gran Fellové (The Great Fellove), was a Cuban songwriter and...

Bobby Paunetto, New York City and The Synthesis of Music

Bobby Paunetto was an unforgettable composer, arranger, musician and recording artist. Latin Jazz Network honors him on the tenth anniversary of his death (8.10.10). His...

Jazz Plaza 2020: Ancient to the Future

Chapter four of our series: 35th Jazz Plaza International Festival in Havana In recent months I found myself in profound reflection of the term...

Ray Martinez and the Forgotten Legacy of Jazz

Sometime in the very near future, several of the jazz world's best known writers and musicologists will meet in some obscure conclave to pool...

A Brief History of the Cuban Style Conjunto

1930: The Orquesta Típica is out and the Conjunto is in The year 1930 marked a turning point in the development of popular Cuban music....

Jazz Plaza 2020: Speaking in Tongues

Chapter three of our series: 35th Jazz Plaza International Festival in Havana Featured photo: Los Muñequitos de Matanzas at El Tablao in Havana, by Danilo...

Join our mailing list

Participate in contests, giveaways and more