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Román Filiú To Release New Album: Quarteria



Román Filiú

Román Filiú

Six buildings in close proximity with families living one on top of another within a constant melee of sound, including music of all sorts. This is the public housing of Santiago de Cuba, known locally as cuartería. These apartments and their confederation of people and sounds serve as the inspiration to saxophonist and composer Román Filiú’s new musical suite and subsequent recording, Quarteria.

Growing up in the far eastern province of Cuba, Filiú was aware of music all around him. His father was a music theory teacher who encouraged his son to explore classical music scores. Filiú’s own musical studies began with classical piano before he focused on the saxophone. While visiting his friends who lived in the local cuartería, the budding musician was exposed to a wide variety of sounds of Cuban extraction, including liturgical music for Bembé, conga oriental, tumba francesa, classical, jazz, and popular music, the cuartería was Filiú’s own musical Tower of Babel.

Filiú left Santiago de Cuba some time ago. He continued his studies in Camagüey and at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana. He lived and played locally in Havana, including a stint in jazz super group Irakere, before he moved to Madrid, where he lived for seven years. Filiú has been in New York since 2011 and has made his mark on the jazz scene as a bandleader, composer, instrumentalist and collaborator of note, playing alongside well-known musicians like Henry Threadgill, Steve Coleman and Dafnis Prieto.

Upon receiving a commissioning and residency grant from The Jazz Gallery of New York City, Filiú was able to compose his Quarteria. His goal was to create a suite of music that involved an eclectic range of musical styles performed by a diverse group of musicians. In composing, Filiú utilized a number of methods, including writing by transcribing piano improvisations, playing his saxophone, singing the melody or even without the influence of an instrument, putting his thoughts straight to paper. Through the entire process, Filiú made sure that the pieces served improvisation.

The ensemble grew out of Filiú’s intention to have as full a sound as possible with as compact an assemblage as he could muster. The ensemble ended up as a septet with an additional horn on two pieces, all members being brilliant stylists and improvisers well-versed in a variety of musical traditions.

Trumpeter Ralph Alessi has been a frequent collaborator with Filiú in Dafnis Prieto’s band, the two having originally met while the trumpeter traveled with Steve Coleman to Havana. Dayna Stephens’ s sonorous tenor saxophone is a perfect foil for Filiú’s alto. Also from Santiago de Cuba, pianist David Virelles has been a long time collaborator and is responsible here for widening the ensemble’s panoramic sound. Bassist Matt Brewer was a must for his steady rhythm and expert time, while drummer Craig Weinrib is equally adept in support and widely steeped in rhythmic traditions from all over the world.

The suite begins with the staggering “Fulcanelli,” the piece inspired by its namesake’s study of the sacred geometry of cathedrals and which utilizes symmetry within its compositional makeup. Olivier Messiaen’s compositional style informed “Grass,” which was written away from the piano and utilizes expanded voicings between the three horns and the piano. The title of “Harina Con Arena” refers to the period of Russian withdrawal from Cuba in the 1990s and the food crisis that followed where there developed a common practice of adding sand to the cornmeal sold to the population. The piece is meant to have the jilting feeling of biting into that unexpected texture.

Utilizing hints from his choir director brother, Filiú wrote the beautiful “Choral” with formal voice leading, lending to the shifting harmonies within the instruments. On his week long Jazz Gallery residency at the Pocantico Center in Tarrytown, New York, Filiú composed three danzas at the piano: the improvised “Danza #5,” the Messiaen influenced “Danza #1,” and “Danza #3,” which was inspired by the rhythms of his childhood neighborhood comparsa ensemble, San Pedrito. The wonderfully disjointed “Glass” uses one melody, which is delayed a half beat between the parts, creating a unique counterpoint.

The stately “Imperator” mirrors the walk of an old Haitian refugee who lived near Filiú’s childhood home and who used to help the young saxophonist carry his horn home from school. Saxophonist Maria Grand appears on “For Horns and Bells,” which is a chorale and an experiment in conduction and voice leading. The final two pieces came from an idea to create crazy names and then write music for them. “Tursten” is a mysteriously laconic piece, while “Kaijufrem” is aggressive and utilizes a compositional system devised by Filiú in which he assigns a note to each letter of the name but then allows the structure to mutate from there.

The metaphor of a large edifice with people from of all walks of life comingling with the soundtrack of the music of Cuba is fitting for Roman Filiú’s Quarteria, which is an exceptional example of a lifetime’s exposure and dedication to the study of music in all its forms, coalescing into a moving musical experience.

Román Filiú – alto saxophone
Ralph Alessi – trumpet
Dayna Stephens – tenor saxophone
Maria Grand – tenor saxophone (10 & 11)
David Virelles – piano
Matt Brewer – bass
Craig Weinrib – drums
Yusnier Sanchez – percussion

To be released May 11, 2018

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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New Releases

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



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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