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Brenda Navarrete: Mi Mundo



Brenda Navarrete - Mi Mundo

The Afro-Cuban percussionist and singer, Brenda Navarrete is one of the best-kept secrets of her generation. However, now, thanks to producer extraordinaire and Alma Records founder, Peter Cardinali, the secret is out. With her short, but exquisite album, Mi Mundo, Miss Navarrete joins the ranks of her musical elders, Román Díaz, Pedrito Martinez, as one of the premier batá drummers and vocalists to emerge as musician and Lucumí who have also made a successful transition to Jazz, Latin-Jazz and other hybrid styles of traditional and popular Latin-American music.

With a voice that is pure, bright and high-sprung, Miss Navarrete navigates her way with vocalastics that will surely be the envy of the Latin-Jazz music world. Eschewing the traditional practice of raising the roof with her vocals, Miss Navarrete is often whisper-soft, always seductive, and makes it seem that her music emerge as living breath from deep with the recesses of her body. Her versions of Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington’s “Caravan” and more especially on “Drume Negrita” are infused with such magic that she seems to set the lyrics on fire, but with an almost cold, blue flame.

Editor’s Pick · Featured Album · Mi Mundo

In a break with formula-driven Afro-Cuban music performed as guaguancó, son and danzón, Miss Navarrete pops in a beautiful surprise. “Namaste” is a song in which Hindustani rhythms entwine with her (Miss Navarette’s) own Afro-Cuban ones and the resulting music blooms into something quite mystical. The bridge of the song is absolutely breathtaking as Miss Navarrete’s Lucumí chants and recitatives collide with tabalchi (tabla player) Pete Locket performing percussion syllables vocally in a combination of konnakol* syllables spoken while simultaneously counting the tala (meter) and playing his tabla.

Miss Navarrete also holds her own with a stellar musical cast that includes a number of percussionists, Adonis Panter and Osaín del Monte, drummers Horacio ‘El Negro’ Hernández and Rodney Barreto; Cuban-Canadian piano master Hilario Durán and Rolando Luna, a young virtuoso pianist proficient in both classical and Latin-Jazz stylings. The group also includes bassists Alain Pérez, Munir Hossn and Michel Salazar Delgado. The hugely talented vocalist Melvis Santa also appears on two charts. And Josué Borges Maresma’s fluttering flutes add further delight to this memorable album headlined by one of the fastest rising stars in Afro-Cuban music and Latin-Jazz.

*Konnakol is the art of performing percussion syllables vocally in South Indian music, the Carnatic music performance art of vocal percussion.

Track list – 1: Baba Elegguá; 2: Rumbero Como Yo; 3: Anana Oyé; 4: Caravana; 5: Drume Negrita; 6: Namaste; 7: Taita Bilongo; 8: Mulata Linda; 9: Cachita; 10: A Ochún

Personnel – Brenda Navarrete: lead vocals (1 – 10), coro (4, 7, 9, 10), batá drums (1 – 3, 7, 8), percussion (1, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10); Melvis Santa: coro (4, 10); Luis Orbegoso: coro (4, 7, 9); Munir Hossn: bass (2), guitar (2), percussion (2); Adonis Panter: percussion (2), quinto (8); Osaín del Monte: percussion (2); Pete Locket: tablas and percussion (6); Adel Gonzáles: percussion (7); Guillermo Del Toro: percussion (9); Roberto Carcassés: piano (3) Hilario Durán: piano (4); Rolando Luna: piano (5, 7, 9); Leonardo F. Gil Milian: piano (6, 10); Alain Pérez: bass (3 – 10), coro (7); Michel Salazar Delgado: bass (4); José Carlos Sánchez Portilla: drums (3); Horacio ‘El Negro’ Hernández: drums (4, 6); Rodney Barreto: percussion (5), drums (7, 9, 10); Josué Borges Maresma: flute (3, 9, 10), harmonica (5); Tommy Lawrie: trumpet (7); Eduardo Sandoval: trombone (9)

Released – 2018
Label – Alma Records
Runtime – 38:20

Pages: 1 2

Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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Featured Albums

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá



Roberto Jr. Vizcaino, Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaino Guillot - Photo Nayeli Mejia
Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Adrien Brandeis, Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot - Photo: Nayeli Mejia.

Listening to the music of Siempre Más Allá, it certainly seems that the young French pianist, Adrien Brandeis has strengthened the belief that he is a proverbial citizen of the Afro-Caribbean universe. To be clear Mr Brandeis still loves all music and swings as hard as any pianist who loves Black American Music – that is, music that you can sing and dance to. But also continues to be beguiled by the rolling thunder of Afro-Caribbean music. The wild call of the rhythms and the joie de vivre of the questing melodies and harmonies not only appeal to his ear, but also speak to him in the hidden parts of his heart.

By his own admission Siempre Más Allá took root during three tours to Mexico undertaken under the aegis of the Fédération des Alliances Françaises du Mexique. The virtually all-Afro-Cuban repertoire of the album radiates charm at every turn. These disarmingly natural and eloquent performances bring out the music’s inherent drama and penchant for tumbao with a deft touch while indulging Brandeis’ lyrical instincts to the full. Meticulously balanced, the four quartet pieces, the trio and duo pieces feel as if they are chamber works. Brandeis’ astonishingly insightful playing is musically captivating and technically blemishless. Each phrase rings so completely true that one can’t imagine the music played any other way.

Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá
Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

The album features Mr Brandeis and a group of very accomplished musicians. These include the celebrated Cuban percussionist Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot [on two tracks] and his son Roberto Vizcaíno Jr., Mexican drummer José Loria Triay make up the wall of percussion. The Brasilian bassist Giliard Lopes brings his distinctive veritas to the whole rhythm section. The big surprise here is, perhaps, the presence of the great Cuban Horacio “El Negro” Hernández sitting in the drum chair on La buena vibra.

Siempre Más Allá is an affirmation of Brandeis’ enduring love and natural affinity for Latin music. Not surprisingly the music seems to echo the famous Latin American phrase: “¡Que rico bailo yo!” [which, in English, exclaims: “How well I dance!”]. This is no hyperbole as the music – in its pulses and rhythms show as Brandeis traverses the rhythmic topography of the Caribbean and Latin America. Along the way Brandeis plunged into the world of changüí, the chacarera, Brasilian gaucho music and the ancient melodic thunder of bàtá drums.

From the get-go listeners will find themselves immersed in quite another world of rippling percussive grooves. The track Ek Bakam, for instance, conjures the intricate architecture; the line and flow of an epic Mayan civilisation located in the Yucatan. Narratives from the Latin world abound – often paying homage to famous traditional musicians. Pancho’s Power is one such chart inspired by the vivid world of the legendary trio Los Panchos. Brandeis gives his percussion section a lot of space when he puts the spotlight on them on Tierra de Oportunidades – a wistful memory of the pianist’s three tours to Mexico, which is also incidentally the popular provincial slogan of the Mexican state of Guanajuato. On Huachi-Huachi Brandeis digs deep into the epicurean delights of the only Latin country in North America with this song in praise of a kind of gourmet Mexican fish: the huachinango.

Brandeis then celebrates his association with percussion colourist Roberto Vizcaíno Jr. with the extraordinary music of Vizcaíno Blues, a piece unique with its exploratory chromaticisms and elegant sonorities that beautifully capture the eloquence of the percussionist in whose praise the music is written. Mindful of the fact that Vizcaíno is Cuban but makes his home in Mexico, Brandeis shapes the rhythmic and harmonic palette of the piece accordingly. On La Buena Vibra Brandeis delivers astonishing pianistic fireworks in the piece’s melodic and harmonic lines, played at a frenetic pace, to mirror the style of its dedicatee, Michel Camilo. The pianist demonstrates an authentic home-grown grasp of Cuban music as he reimages Voy a Apagar la Luz, by the legendary and late-singer Armando Manzanero, here adapted as a wistful solo piano work. Meanwhile on the dizzying ride of Humpty Dumpty the pianist pays homage to another idol: Chick Corea, by revisiting the sparkling composition of the recently-deceased piano maestro.

It is hard not to be mesmerised by this spirited and finely nuanced music artfully crafted in an album by Adrien Brandeis, a pianist who is about to take the world by storm with a recording that is going to be one of the finest by any musician located outside the Latin American sub-continent.

Tracks – 1: Huachi Huachi; 2: Alegría; 3: Pancho’s Power; 4: Ek balam; 5: Un peu d’espoir; 6: Vizcaíno’s Blues; 7: Tierra de oportunidades; 8: Humpty Dumpty; 9: La buena vibra; 10: Voy a apagar la luz

Musicians – Adrien Brandeis: piano; Giliard Lopes: contrabass; José Loria Triay: drums; Roberto Vizcaíno Jr: congas and bàtá drums. Featuring Roberto Vizcaíno Guillot: percussion [1, 6]; Horacio “El Negro” Hernández: drums [9]

Released – 2022
Label – Mantodea Music Productions
Runtime – 58:25

YouTube Video – Adrien Brandeis – Siempre más allá (EPK)

YouTube Audio – Adrien Brandeis – Vizcaíno’s Blues

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