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Nelson Riveros Releases The Latin Side of Wes Montgomery

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Nelson Riveros

The Latin Side of Wes Montgomery is a triumphant tribute album. It’s made by one master, in honor and celebration of another. Nelson Riveros is an acclaimed guitarist and composer who embodies the very idea of cultural fusion. Born in New York to Colombian parents, Riveros grew up learning about the music and cultures of the Americas. A few years ago, after playing a gig that involved performing songs in Wes Montgomery’s vaunted repertoire, Riveros had the idea of reimaging the legendary guitarist’s music in a Latin American style: “I started to hear all kind of rhythms, bass lines, and melodic variations to some of his tunes. The next day, I started writing arrangements, and this very project began to take shape,” said Riveros.

In making this terrific album, naturally Riveros wanted to collaborate with the very best musicians. And he did just that. He partnered with Héctor Martignon (piano), a two-time Grammy nominee; Mark Walker (drums); Andy McKee (bass); Jonathan Gómez (percussion). Throughout the album, we can hear the band playing together as one, channeling the fluidness and virtuosity you will find on most if not all Wes Montgomery recordings.

“Road Song” is the opening salvo of Riveros’ opus. This rendition features an intro played in unison, which is actually a melodic cell that happens later in the song. The song has well placed space near the bridge so that Martignon can comp with a Latin feel, even introducing head-nodding montunos. The piece fades into a surprise ending that gives the listeners one more jolt, a reminder that the festivities continue. “Tear It Down” comes from Montgomery’s Bumpin’ which was released in 1965 on Verve. Montgomery’s version was a polished, straight-ahead swing number, which Riveros recast as a Brazilian Samba with Walker and Gómez adding colorful Latin percussion.

“Four On Six” is one of Riveros’ favorite songs of all time. He took the original bass line and turned it into a syncopated Tumbao. In fact, he first heard the Tumbao in his head before arranging the piece. Riveros studied Montgomery’s different recordings of this piece, noticing when the legendary artists played the chord hits and when he didn’t, for example. Riveros took all these elements and fused them into his arrangement, creating a wonderful collage in which the band grooves together marvelously. Wes’ Tune comes from Far Wes which was released in 1958. Riveros arranged the tune as a Colombian porro, which has a slower and more meditative tempo. It’s on this piece that Riveros shines as a soloist, spanning the fretboard with intervallic octaves and virtuosic chromaticism.

“Nelson’s Groove” is Riveros’ original composition, inspired by “Wes’ Tune.” The distinctive rhythms at the beginning are afoxé and baiao from Brazil. In a musical nod to Montgomery, Riveros plays mostly octaves during the bridge. “West Coast Blues” was on the LP The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery released in 1960. Riveros arranges this seminal number into a joropo, a style from Latin America, notably Venezuela and Colombia. With its 6/8 rhythm, this piece feels like a jazz waltz, or a number that could be found at a fandango with son jarocho music from Veracruz, Mexico. Musical highlights are Jonathan Gómez’s great touch with the maracas and Riveros’ elevated virtuosity.

“Jingles” is the last piece on the LP The Dynamic New Sound by the Wes Montgomery Trio, released in 1959. Riveros arranges it with a brisk tempo. It begins with a snippet of melody in the intro. The bridge swells with a fiery Latin jazz groove. Martignon delivers a rousing and impassioned solo which dramatically crescendos and gives way to Riveros’ intriguing improvisation.

“Facing Wes” is another original composition of Riveros, set in 7/4 with a section in 5. This piece certainly feels like a blues but it doesn’t go back to the IV minor. McKee plays a beautiful bass solo in which the low register rumbles with a rich and lush sound. This piece features a Montgomery-inspired melody of octaves in the bridge. “The turnaround” features the ‘Wes’ style solo chords that I so love to play,” said Riveros. That Riveros is admitting his love of certain turnaround chords reveals the respect he has for Montgomery and the depth of this magnificent musical production. “Leila” is the capstone number that also comes from the 1958 Far Wes album. Riveros performs this piece as a solo arrangement on his nylon string guitar, as to inhabit the piece fully and give it a softer and more mellow feel. He harmonized the melody with different chords, so the piece sounds familiar but also fresh. Here too, Riveros adds a Latin vibe with a tumbao bass feel. This selection is both intimate and revealing, borne of Riveros’ mind and performed with his total heart.

You’ve never heard Wes Montgomery’s music like this before. Master guitarist Nelson Riveros reimagines many of the legendary guitarist’s pieces with a Latin aesthetic. Not only does this music swing, but it’s syncopated, accented by percussion from the Americas. Riveros has given us something wholly unique and inviting. The Latin Side of Wes Montgomery won’t just help you rediscover the music of a veritable music legend. It will also introduce you to Nelson Riveros, a talented guitarist with a big heart who has created a superb tribute to his musical hero.

Kabir Sehgal is a multi-Grammy & Latin Grammy award winner.

Source: Zoho Music, Jazz Promo Services

Latin Jazz Network is a project dedicated to the advancement of Latin jazz and its creators. Since 2000 LJN has been spreading the word about this wonderful music known under the umbrella term: LATIN JAZZ.

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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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