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Luisito Quintero: 3rd Element

The incidence of percussionists playing music is far greater than musicians who happen to be percussionists. Luisito Quintero falls into the latter category. Luisito Quintero was born in Caracas…

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Luisito Quintero 3rd Element

The incidence of percussionists playing music is far greater than musicians who happen to be percussionists. Luisito Quintero falls into the latter category. Luisito Quintero was born in Caracas, Venezuela, with music in his blood. He appears to have been surrounded by Afro-Venezuelan and Afro-Cuban rhythm and music. His father, Luis Quintero Sr., a respected percussionist in his native country, tutored and encouraged his young son to play timbales through his adolescent years. Luisito Quintero comes from a long line of outstanding musicians which includes his uncle, Carlos Nene Quintero and cousin Robert Quintero. Mr. Quintero studied at the respected Orquesta Sinfónica de Venezuela (The Symphonic Orchestra of Venezuela), and his percussion technique soon garnered attention from his colleagues. He has never been afraid to push the boundaries of his music melding popular idioms with Afro-Venezuelan and Afro-Cuban ones incorporating it all into a variety of percussion instruments: timbales, congas, bongos, drum set, the West African djembe and dundun, and a wide variety of other percussion instruments. Mr. Quintero brings all of this technical wizardry and musicality to his 2014 album 3rd Element, a self-effacing title that refers his role in an ensemble to a rhythmist or one performing the third element—rhythm—in music. In reality he is anything but that and in the first hearing of this Latin-Grammy nominated album his music literally leaps out of the blocks from the very first bars of “City View.” And from then on it is simply one musical explosion after the other.

This is not merely a rhythm-driven recording. It is richly adorned with soaring melodies and complex harmonies. And leading from the front is Luisito Quintero. This is a timbalero with a wonderful sense of song. And that means that his playing is informed by a melodic adventure that sounds as if he were almost singing on his timbales. The arrangements, some of which are made by Mr. Quintero, are rich and full of dramatic twists and turns. Not only is this showcased in the brass and woodwinds, but also in the uplifting battery of percussion. Mr. Quintero leads this from the front. His music is at its best when combined by the Afro-Cuban batá drums. But his playing on the other instruments he plays is also quite exquisite. Listen to how he holds his own on the exquisitely crafted “3rd Element,” a solo percussion piece that is distinctive with its tuneful musicality. Mr. Quintero’s tuned drums are characteristic of Latin percussion, but he makes the most of this distinguishing feature. In “Chacho” his drums and percussion combine superbly with bass and other rhythm instruments to herald a great wave of music that crashes through chorus after chorus of the song. “Metheny” is a superb fast and funky cha-cha-cha. “When There Were Four” makes full use of odd meters. This too is something that is featured on other charts. Mr. Quintero is very clever that way. He seems to be able to change rhythmic pulses at the drop of a hat. None of this is a surprise to the wonderful ensemble. They are so well heeled that the musicians appear to be prepared for any musical eventuality.

Track List: City View; Los Gaiteros; Rumba en San Agustín; Metheny; Chacho; Luisito’s Mambo; When There Were Four; Otro Camino; Joro-Timbal; 3rd Element; Nequín

Personnel: Luisito Quintero: timbales, congas, chekere, minor percussion, drums; Alfredo Naranjo: vibraphone; Alberto Vergara: vibraphone; Rodner Padilla: Yamaha bass; Julio “Julito” Antillano: bass; Gonzalo Tepa: acoustic bass; Alvaro Paiva: guitar; Rafael Greco: piano and saxophone; Eliel Rivero: trombone; Mayerlin Carrero de Quintero: trombone; Pedro Carrero: trombone; Yorman Caballo Mendez: (single) bongo; Carlos “Nene” Quintero: congas, (single) conga; Luis Quintero Sr.: (single) timbale; Jair Acosta: Venezuelan (Creole) maracas; Yonathan “El Morocho” Gavida: Afro-Venezuelan drums, cumaco-clarin-mina, cutbata-laureles, maracas; Benigno Medina: bata (iya), minor percussion; Francisco Ceballo: bata (itotele), Jose Luis Martinez: bata (okonkolo); Hector “Maximo” Rodriguez: bass; Oscar Hernández: piano; Ricky González: piano; Jason Villamar: keyboards, Rhodes; Axel Tosta: Keyboards, Rhodes; Reynaldo Jorge: trombone; Doug Beavers: trombone; Nhoa Bless: trombone; Eddie Venegas: violin; Mireya Ramos: chorus; Richie Flores: congas; Roberto Quintero: congas; Anderson Quintero: drums; Nestor Villar: Venezuelan Gaita Charrasca

Label: Independent
Release date: September 2014
Website: facebook.com/pages/Luisito-Quintero
Buy music on: amazon
Sample track excerpt: Chacho


About Luisito Quintero: Luisito Quintero was born in Caracas, Venezuela, where he was surrounded by Afro-Venezuelan and Afro-Cuban rhythm and music. His father, a respected percussionist in his native country, tutored and encouraged Luisito on timbales through his adolescent years. Luisito comes from a long line of outstanding musicians which includes his uncle, Carlos Nene Quintero and cousin Robert Quintero. Luisito studied at the respected The Symphonic Orchestra of Venezuela, and his percussion technique soon garnered attention from his colleagues. He joined the popular music ensembles Grupo Guaco and Oscar D’Leon, where he enjoyed widespread worldwide exposure. Read more…

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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Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá

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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.

Deo gratis…

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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