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Henry Cole & Villa Locura To Release “Buscando La Vida”

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Henry Cole

Musical Visionary Henry Cole & Villa Locura present sprawling new masterwork: BUSCANDO LA VIDA, due out November 19, 2021

Puerto Rican master drummer, composer, arranger Henry Cole is thrilled to announce the release of Buscando La Vida, a new full-length recording with his dynamic ensemble Villa Locura. Due out for release on November 19, this bold, life-affirming work commissioned by Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works finds the Grammy-winning musical polymath in a highly creative and expressive state. Augmented by the renowned Metropole Orkest, and featuring an eclectic cast of top-notch collaborators including Antibalas frontman Duke Amayo and MC Negro González, Buscando La Vida showcases Cole’s extraordinary and expansive vision. Pre-order it on Bandcamp here. 

Henry Cole & Villa Locura: Buscando La Vida

A native of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, Cole’s cross-cultural style draws on African, Indigenous, and European influences and positions him at the forefront of jazz innovation and 21st-century rhythms. “If I had been a Puerto Rican musician playing a few centuries ago, I would have had the same kind of influences,” explains Cole. “They’ve come together to create a mestizo sound, and I’m carrying that forward.” In 2012, inspired by Fela Ransome-Kuti and the Africa 70 with Ginger Baker, Cole’s Roots Before Branches garnered superb reviews from the New York Times, World Music Report, and Jazz Times among others. National Public Radio declared the album “One of the Five New Directions in Jazz Evolution,” and jazz icon Chick Corea praised Cole for “beautifully expanding on the traditions he grew up with.”

Over the years, Cole’s power and versatility have proven indispensable to the world’s most acclaimed jazz groups, including The Miguel Zenón Quartet, David Sánchez, The Gary Burton Quartet, Fabian Almazan Rhizome, the Ben Wendell Quartet, the All-Star quartet 90 Miles, and Chano Dominguez as well as the groups Chambao, Calle 13, Residente, Siete Nueve, Balún and Draco Rosa.

The last few years have been a whirlwind for Cole. Six months to the COVID-19 shutdown, tragedy struck when a fire destroyed Cole’s New York City apartment. Two months later, he relocated to his native Puerto Rico, and “started from zero.” These plans were disrupted when the world shut down in March 2020, creating an even more tenuous situation. Concurrently, Cole received some welcome news: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation was giving him a New Jazz Works grant. As one of the only Puerto Ricans to ever be granted this honor, Cole felt an immense responsibility to create something that would be representative of his work, and of his native Puerto Rico. “Losing a home – and then having to do all the work that comes with that gives no time to complain or overthink. It’s about action. These are the so-called “fight or flight” situations. When faced with life-threatening conditions, we can access our “superpowers,” which is what this album is all about,” reflects Cole.

Throughout the pandemic, Cole kept busy by working on Buscando when he could, and by releasing singles with Villa Locura including “El Diablo” with Tito Allen, “Caminando” with Tego Calderon, “Si Va’llover” with Alex Lopez “El Callejero,” and “Atiende” with Andy Montañez. With the support of the New Jazz Works grant, Cole was able to broaden his scope for this new project and unleash his own “superpowers” in spite of the poor state of the world around him. “Death became the word of the day,” writes Cole in the liner notes, “the death of humans, work, faith, plans, bank accounts and so much more. In the middle of so much death, I decided to look for life.”

Featuring eight original compositions by Cole, Buscando La Vida is rooted in jazz, but features strong elements of funk, Afrobeat, soul and hiphop, synthesized through Cole’s singular vision. Some of the selections were inspired by feelings; the cinematic opening “No Estamos Solos” (“We Are Not Alone”) is a colorful showcase for the Metropole Orkest in particular and was written as a reflection on unexpectedly crossing paths with like-minded people and realizing we, as a people, are not alone. Some are more personal: “Y en Sueños te Persigo” (“And in Dreams I Chase You”) is about being “so obsessed with an idea, the creator pursues it in dreams” and “Dime Donde Estas” (Tell Me Where You Are), and “H.C.S.”  are dedicated to Cole’s estranged father, Henry Cole Simon. “De Frente” (Head On), a genre-mashup featuring the sharp-tounged Negro González, is a meditation on confronting and taking responsibility for one’s life, including all its positive and negative qualities while “Azul Turquesa” (Blue Turquoise) is a reflective love song. “Shinobi (He Who Hides)” is dedicated to the figure of the ninja – a figure of inspiration for Cole that speaks to the ability to develop a “killer” instinct ability without sacrificing one’s essence. The vibrant closer “Vueltas” (Turns) pays homage to the community that created the Delta Blues and its relation to the Puerto Rican Jibaro, and, as Cole says,  “the “gatekeeper” to our hearts.”

“Every move, idea, melody, rhythm, and concept on this project is fueled by the “fight or fly” energy we carry – the life inside us and around us. The only way we could complete this project was to adapt to what was possible during the pandemic and never for a minute lose faith or focus, and by working as a family. Buscando La Vida is a testament to courage and excellence during the worst moments. Also, the collaboration with the Metropole Orkest takes our culture, the group, and Puerto Rico to new places in history,” shares Cole.

BUSCANDO LA VIDA will be released on LA MÚSICA ARTESANAL on Vinyl, CD, and Digital Formats on Friday, November 19, 2021.

Source: Lydia Liebman Promotions

Founder, Editor, Webmaster: Latin Jazz Network, World Music Report, That Canadian Magazine. A passionate and committed communicator with a sensibility for the arts based in Toronto, Canada.

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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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