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César Orozco and Kamarata Jazz to Release New Album: “Rooted Forward”

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César Orozco & Kamarata Jazz - Rooted Forward - New Album
César Orozco & Kamarata Jazz - Rooted Forward - New Album
Pianist, composer, arranger, and educator César Orozco

Co-Producers César Orozco and Rodner Padilla are thrilled to announce the October 16, 2020 release of Rooted Forward, the fourth album from César Orozco and Kamarata Jazz. A pianist, composer, arranger, and educator (who just so happens to be a classically trained violinist, too!), Orozco has always celebrated the rich musical traditions of Cuba and Venezuela, the two places that most greatly informed his musical education and upbringing. Rooted Forward continues to honor those musical legacies but also showcases more of Orozco’s compositional prowess than has been on display to this point.

 “When I started to plan the album during the summer of 2019,” Orozco said, “I thought it was time to do an album that could showcase my composer and arranger side a little bit more than I had on the previous ones.” 

To that end, of Rooted Forward’s nine cuts, eight are originals, with seven written by Orozco and the title track by his right-hand man and Kamarata Jazz’s electric bassist, Padilla.

In all, 17 musicians see action on Rooted Forward, including saxophonists Antonio Luis Orta and the Grammy-nominated Troy Roberts, trumpeters Tyler Mire and Alex Norris, trombonist Luke Brimhall, acoustic bassist Gabriel Vivas, percussionists Roberto Moreno, Pablo Bencid, Fran Vielma, and Diego “El Negro” Alvarez, and Jorge Glem on the four-stringed Venezuelan cuatro.

While the album is rooted in traditional rhythms and genres from Venezuela and Cuba like danzón, son, chachachá, joropo, Venezuelan waltz and merengue, and Afro-Cuban/Venezuelan music, it also includes contemporary harmonies, melodies, odd meters, improvisation, and unusual instrumentations—creating a sound that moves forward despite the root elements present in each tune. 

Hence, the album’s ostensibly contradictory title. That’s what you realize when you listen to the album—nothing happens by accident, there are only those incongruities which Orozco has cleverly and purposely orchestrated, though by no means does the music ever want for improvisational brio. 

Take Rooted Forward’s opener, “Heavy Wave,” an Orozco piece originally commissioned by Venezuela’s Ensemble 7/4. Rhythmically unique, blending Brazilian bossa nova with Venezuelan joropo, the powerful horn section—consisting of two trumpets, tenor and alto saxophones and trombone—is the tune’s principal accelerant, especially when Padilla plays is unison with the brass instruments, but the surprise treats here are those that temper the horns’ acidity, Orozco on Fender Rhodes electric piano and Glem on cuatro

The next two cuts, “Como Dice Danilo” and “Chacha Para Purri” are for Orozco’s father and mother, respectively—the first tunes, Orozco said, that he’s ever written for his parents. The one for his dad Danilo, who’s considered to be one of the most respected musicologists in all of Latin America, is a mix of Cuban son and danzón, featuring Marcial Istúriz on lead vocals and Zamira Briceño and David Alastre backing him up. Roberts, on soprano saxophone here, plays beautifully in unison with Orozco in the composition’s first half, then shines brightly as a soloist in the hip-shaking second half. 

Though his mother is not a musician by trade, but rather a dentist, Orozco touts her intuitive sense for music and “impressive ear,” and is careful not to disappoint her with a languid, flowing chachachá in 7/4 that notably showcases two impressive runs on soprano saxophone from Orta.

 The title track is next, fusing elements of Venezuelan joropo with popular elements of flamenco music. Troy Roberts is featured once again, marking his first appearance on tenor sax with a solo of gradually escalating fury matched only by Alvarez’s turns on the cajón.

Roberts and his tenor saxophone return on “Spiral City,” a recursive, delirium-inducing tune that, like the city to which it is dedicated—New York City—is at times disorienting but brimming with transcendent talent. Combined with the next track, “Volao Rumba,” a guaguancó written in 7/4, this two-tune section, says Orozco, constitutes the album’s most musically complex.

Equally if not more important to Orozco is another place, where the pace is less frenetic but the culture no less musically rich. It’s Venezuela, a country Orozco considers his second homeland. And for it, he’s written “Tierra Valiente”—‘brave land’— a peaceful and melodic waltz with hints of Chick Corea-type phrasing that is, at once, wistful, melancholic, and hopeful.

Sueño y Anhelo,” the only non-original on the album, is a polo Margariteño, a traditional folk song from eastern Venezuela that seems to build an entire world and tell its entire story all within six-and-a-half minutes. After an ethereal first instrumental act, Natasha Bravo sings lead vocals and is accompanied poignantly by Orozco and Glem.

Orozco ratchets the energy all the way back up for the closer, “Con Mi Tambor,” which could just as reasonably translate into ‘the musical anti-depressant’ as ‘with my drum.’ A Cuban guaguancó suffused with Afro-Venezuelan rhythm featuring brilliant solo work, once again, from Troy Roberts and the indispensable percussive stylings of Fran Vielma, 14 of the album’s 17 musicians return back to the bandstand here for this rollicking finale, where Orozco’s ebullient vocal soneos serve as a decisive exclamation point.

With Rooted Forward, César Orozco and Kamarata Jazz prove that a heart for tradition and a head for innovation are not irreconcilable musically. Orozco puts it thusly: “The old and beautiful tree of your garden which has long and deep roots growing down, suddenly starts giving you a new, delicious and different type of ‘fruit’ because of a special ‘fertilizer’ you started using to take care of it. The tree has evolved to a new kind of tree, one that will continue to surprise you even more in the future with lots of new and different fruits.”

Source: Lydia Liebman Promotions

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New Releases

Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band to release new recording: “Vox Humana”

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Drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, bandleader, educator, Bobby Sanabria
Drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, bandleader, educator, Bobby Sanabria

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. 

Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band: "Vox Humana"
Bobby Sanabria MULTIVERSE Big Band: “Vox Humana”

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.

Content Source: Two for the Show Media

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