Igbó Alákorin (a phrase in Yoruba which can be loosely translated as The Singer’s Grove) is the realization of pianist David Virelles’ long-held dream to document the under-sung musicians of his birthplace, Santiago de Cuba. Virelles, who was named the #1 Rising Jazz Pianist in the 2017 Downbeat Critics Poll, is one of the most in-demand pianists on the contemporary jazz scene, recording with the likes of Henry Threadgill, Chris Potter, and Tomasz Stanko. He also has four prior releases under his own name, including Continuum, which topped the New York Times best album list for 2012.
Since leaving Cuba in 2001, each time Virelles returned home he would make it a point to seek out and study with the elders of Santiago’s rich musical heritage, and it is these musicians who he has assembled for this project. Recorded at Santiago’s legendary E.G.R.E.M. – Siboney studios, the album is made up of two distinct projects: “Volume I – David Virelles Introduces Orquesta Luz de Oriente” was conceived for a big band of seasoned veterans to showcase many of the musical styles associated with Santiago, including the music of Electo Rosell (of the legendary Chepín-Chovén Orchestra) and Mariano Mercerón, who were important pioneers in the percussion-propelled Cuban big band sound of the 1930s. On “Vol. II – Danzones de Romeu at Café La Diana,” Virelles reinterprets the piano music of the iconic early-20th Century pianist/composer Antonio María Romeu, exploring his practice of playing danzones accompanied only by güiro. A product of deep historical and cultural research, Igbó Alákorin is another chapter in Virelles’s ongoing pursuit to create music that transcends the boundaries between folkloric and contemporary to reveal only an essence beyond any genre.
This album was made possible by the generous support of The Shifting Foundation. Research for this project was completed thanks to The Diaz-Ayala Cuban and Latin American Popular Music Collection, Florida International University Library.
“What a marvel! Tradition and avant-garde come together in this offering of the highest order. In my opinion, David Virelles is a young virtuoso immersed in research. He knows our African roots with depth. He is an innovator, a perfectionist, and the most creative and advanced of our jazz pianists. Thank you, David, for making us happy and proud, and for updating our traditions. Ashé! Never stop!” – Chucho Valdés
David Virelles: piano, chorus
Alejandro Almenares: requinto, lead vocals (3,5,8,9), chorus
Emilio Despaigne Robert: lead vocals (2,7) , chorus
Rafael Ábalos: timbal, guiro, chorus
José Ángel Martínez: bass
Lázaro Bandera: congas
Román Filiú: alto saxophone
René “La Flor” Domínguez: tenor saxophone
Baudelis Rodríguez: baritone saxophone
Abel Virelles: trumpet
José Aquiles Virelles: chorus
Gabriel Montero: pailitas criollas, claves (2,7)
— with John Benitez: bass (5,8)
1. Bodas de Oro
2. El Rayaero
3. Grato Recuerdo
4. Echa Pa’ Allá
5. Canto a Oriente
6. Un Granito de Arena
7. Sube La Loma
8. Cosas de Mi Cuba
9. Ojos de Sirena
10. Tápame Que Tengo Frío
11. Tira la Cuchara y Rompe el Plato
12. Mojito Criollo
13. Mares y Arenas
14. Tres Lindas Cubanas
Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band to release new recording: “Vox Humana”
Celebrating 25 years! The multi-Grammy nominated Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band is set to release their new recording: “Vox Humana” featuring vocalists Janis Siegel, Antoinette Montague, Jennifer Jade Ledesna.
Recorded Live at Dizzy’s Club Cola in NYC
Release Date: Spring 2023
Record Label: Jazzheads
New York – January 18th – On the heels of their Grammy nominated and 2019 Jazz Journalists Association Album of the Year Award winning critically acclaimed masterwork, West Side Story Reimagined, and in celebration of their 25th anniversary – drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, bandleader, educator, Bobby Sanabria and his Multiverse Big Band return with their most ambitious work to date, VOX HUMANA.
Bobby states, “Over the course of our many Grammy nominated albums we’ve occasionally featured tracks with vocals. But I’ve always envisioned doing an entire vocal album framed by the Multiverse Big Band. Now with three of today’s greatest contemporary singing talents – multi-Grammy award winner Janis Siegel from the Manhattan Transfer, blues and jazz Queen Antoinette Montague, and the multilingual powerhouse, Jennifer Jade Ledesna, today that vision has finally become a reality.
The individually distinct voices that Janis, Antoinette, and Jennifer possess make them each unique. But the X factor they all have is they are all masterful improvisors in the best sense of the jazz tradition. Added to the mix is our great conguero, Oreste Abrantes, who also sings lead on two tracks. Having that multi- dimensional vocal talent framed by the power, nuance, and tonal variety that only a big band can provide, combined with the repertoire I’ve chosen to showcase them and the band and the incredible variety of Afro- Latin, straight ahead swing, funk, R&B, and rock rhythmic vocabulary that we are masters of and readily have at our disposal in the Multiverse, I believe VOX HUMANA will prove to be our greatest achievement.
That repertoire has a personal meaning to me as I see VOX HUMANA as a biographical work. I’m a product of my environment. I’m a Nuyorican, a person of Puerto Rican descent growing up in New York City. In my case the South Bronx during a time period when pop, jazz, R&B, rock, funk, and Latin music of all kinds all co-existed as equals. It was the last era when the big bands of masters like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Machito, Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, Don Ellis, and more were in the public eye, and they became my heroes. Vocalists who could deliver a message with subtlety, nuance, and when needed, power, were called upon to deliver poetry crafted by genius song writers. You’ll hear all that and more through the soaring vocals and improv talents of Janis, Antoinette, and Jennifer, along with Oreste, as well as the incredible jazz-oriented arrangements and exciting Pan Afro-Latin rhythms played by a big band that literally takes no prisoners when it hits the stage.”
The repertoire Bobby speaks of includes 1 original and 12 unique re-workings of pop hits like Spooky, Christine Aguilera’s Genie In a Bottle, and Steely Dan’s Do It Again; NEA Jazz Master Eddie Palmieri’s, Mi Congo and Puerto Rico along with the island’s greatest composer, Rafael Hernandez’s, Capullito De Aleli; the classic Joe Cuba R&B bolero, To Be With You; Brazilian standards Partido Alto and Amazonas; and from the world of Broadway theater, I Love You Porgy, and the iconic jump blues, Let The Good Times Roll. The CD also includes an original message bearing piece, Who Taught You That, as well as what may possibly be the most exciting interpretation of the Ellington associated classic, Caravan, and that has ever been recorded.
Adding to the excitement of the performance, VOX HUMANA was recorded in front of a live audience. Bobby states, “As with our previous work, we recorded VOX HUMANA live at NYC’s Dizzy’s Club Coca – Cola. My musicians represent NYC’s finest. That means they’re the greatest in the world. The added level of excitement created by the audience inspired us in the MULTIVERSE Big Band to a heightened new level of performance virtuosity that listeners will hear explode out of the speakers just as the audience at Dizzy’s experienced in person.”
The history of the Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band is indeed one based on his rich multi-cultural heritage as a Nuyorican growing up in New York City’s South Bronx. His concept of having a big band that has no genre boundaries with limitless possibilities was forged 25 years ago back in 1998. It has yielded a series of groundbreaking, critically acclaimed albums that have all been Grammy-nominated with the band thrilling audiences worldwide at venues like the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, The Ravinia Festival, Verona Jazz Festival in Europe, and more.
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