Born in Holguín in 1988, Alejandro Meroño Valle began playing the piano at the age of 4. Alejandro comes from a family with a musical tradition (the Valle family). He studied piano and percussion at the Raúl Gómez García Art Vocational School, and continued his studies in Havana at the Guillermo Tomas Conservatory. Later he entered the Higher Institute of Art (Instituto Superior de Arte – ISA) studying Composition under the tutelage of teacher Juan Piñera. In 2010 he was twice the winner of the International Contest for Young Jazz Players, Jojazz in the categories of Interpretation and Composition. Under the Colibrí record label, he participated in the album Lecuona Jojazz together with young pianists from the Cuban music scene.
He has collaborated with artists such as Michel Herrera, Yasek Manzano, Orlando Valle “Maraca”, Joaquín Betancourt, Guido López Gavilán, among others. He has been part of the Orlando Valle groups “Maraca,” Joaquín Betancourt and his Jazz band, Yasek Manzano and his band. He was recently a music producer and arranger for the album Ay Mama Inés, llegó La Valdés (Egrem) by Cuban singer La Valdés (Janet Valdés), nominated for Cubadisco 2021 in the Anthology category.
Meroño tells us that this album, Gallo de Oro – Alejandro Meroño and Júpiter Project (2022 Producciones Colibrí) began to be recorded during the pandemic, “a period in which we faced thousands of difficulties and because of that great speed there were songs we couldn’t include in the album.” The musicians who participated in the recording were Ruy Adrián López Nussa on drums, Edgar Martínez on Cuban percussion (congas, batá), Roberto Álvarez on bass and as a guest artist La Valdés on vocals. All the songs are his own except “Yambambó” by Emilio Grenet.
It is with this first album, Gallo de Oro (co-produced with Gloria Ochoa), that Alejandro Meroño gets a nomination in the 25th edition of Cubadisco (2022) in the Jazz category, and to his surprise and tremendous joy he takes the award.
Speaking to Cubarte (El Portal de la Cultura Cubana) Meroño explains that “the album is a process that began with the CD Ay! Mama Inés, llegó La Valdés, of which I was the producer and in which we had been working on the Cuban music of yesteryear and covering songs by Benny Moré, Bola de Nieve, Emilio Grenet, Eliseo Grenet and the music that was made with the Jazz Band. This musical production gave rise to Gallo de Oro within the lines of Jazz and, in turn, connected with the other album through which it continues to pay homage to Cuban songwriting.”
For Meroño this award is a very important step in the development of his artistic career, with which “I hope to have many more opportunities within the artistic scene. Being a recipient of this award I will be taken seriously and I hope that this will result in opportunities to show my music live and continue to defend what I do on social platforms.”
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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