If Glenda del E succeeds in doing what she has set out to do with Q-Ban Mixology, she will be one of the few Cuban artists, who include the majestic Gloria Estefan, to meld disparate musical idioms with traditional Cuban ones in a popular metaphor. There is no name for this kind of music. The word “popular” has become so tainted because there is a good deal of over-produced music is thrust upon the listener and aficionado that real talent often passes like a ship in the night. But hearing rap and hip-hop sit comfortably in her music is an assurance that something new is being sought in the manner of attempting to push the envelope a little bit further. Of course Del E is not the kind of street poet that Telmary Diaz is. Still the attempt to bring various lyric styles into play in her repertoire makes Del E something of a daring artist.
However, it is safe to say that Glenda del E’s greatest strength is her pianism. On the instrumental tracks, “Grandfather’s Danzon,” she gives a fine account of herself, showing that she can create and excel at complex harmony as well as play interesting counterpoint to the suave trumpet of Mario del Monte Sr. And when she combines this with her powerful voice the effect is quite extraordinary. Earlier, on “Mazacote” Del E is sharp. Her grasp of melody is assured and she has an instinct for tumbao. This necessitates a strong left hand and if anything the pianist is extraordinarily gifted in this regard. The concrete musical imagery of this chart is spectacular and Del E weaves interesting rhythmic patterns with the melodic content. The abrupt and complex rhythmic shifts also show her sound grasp of traditional Afro-Cuban polyrhythm. Later, the dazzling pirouettes she makes with her right hand on the brisk melody of “New Habana” are matched by the growling rhythm of her left hand as she makes it swagger with a kind of spirited intoxication. And although it is Glenda del E who makes much of this happen on her own, her rhythmic cohort of percussionists add a piquant flavour to the musical mix.
Glenda del E’s melding of piano or rather instrumental and lyric also reaches surprising highs on this album. Her experiments with various lyric styles on “Fit In… Not!” are self-assured and the passionate rendering of her tour de force, “Q-Ban R & B” leaves an echo of a lasting impression of her soaring voice. Del E can modulate her voice with the demands of the song and this is something she does with verve on her prayer to the Orishas, “Obbatala” as well as on “La Fiesta Cubana”. On the former, she shows off her spirituality with a moving, drone-like splendour. On the latter she is equally spiritual, but this is blended with a free-spirited exultation. Del E’s warmth and passion as a vocalist is also memorably showcased on “L.U.P”.
As a songwriter, clearly Glenda del E has something to show. She is inventive and has a flair for both melody and rhythm. Her work is adventurous—even daring—and she does not seem to back away from complex structures. The fact that Del E is able to write for small and large ensembles is also an extraordinary angle to her talent. This is rare among young artists and must surely auger well for Glenda del E’s future. Right now if she is agonizing over whether to produce another album showcasing her pianism and vocalastics or one where she focuses on merely on her keyboard skills this would be understandable. Not many young artists have such an embarrassment of riches to offer.
Tracks List: Fit In… Not!; Hoy; Q-Ban R & B; Mazacote; Can You; L.U.P; A Obbatala; Grandparents Danzon; La Fiesta Cubana; New Habana.
Personnel: Glenda Del E: lead vocals, piano, keyboards, flute (2), backing vocals; Mario Del Monte Jr. percussion (3-5, 8, 9), drums (4, 7), trumpet (1, 5); Mireya Escalante: lead vocals (7), backing vocals (1, 3, 5, 7, 9); Juan Pablo Dominguez: bass (1, 2, 4); Roberto Riveron: acoustic bass (3, 8, 9), additional vocals (3, 9); Yoser Rodriguez: acoustic bass (8); Omar Martinez: bass (5); Odalys Cuesta: bass (7); Elmer Ferrer: electric guitar (1, 2, 5); Pablosky Rosales: tres (3, 9), guitar (3, 9); Yordanis O’Reilly: cajon (6), percussion (4, 6); Miguelito Valdes: trumpet (3, 4, 9); Alexander Brown: flugelhorn (2); Yaure Muñiz: flugelhorn (4); Benny “El Baby” Escalante: lead vocals (9); Iredis “Puchita” Mena: additional vocals (2); Mario Del Monte Sr.: trumpet (8); Imarbys Canete: flute (7); Jorge Maza: flute (4); Ahmed Mitchell: drums(2); Elijah Walsh: rap vocal (1); Yosvani Castaneda: electric, acoustic violins (7), backing vocals (7); Sharon Lee: violin (1); Judith Manger: cello (1).
Label: GdelE Records | Release date: September 2010
About Glenda Del E
Glenda del E is a multifaceted Afro Latin Soul artist from Cuba, who is passionate about being able to influence, inspire, motivate and collaborate the world with her music. Open to a variety of musical influences, from Classical piano repertoire and Cuban folklore, to Hip-Hop, R&B and Jazz, del E has managed to establish herself as an extremely talented versatile musician amongst diverse music circles in Havana, Miami, Toronto and currently in NYC. Read more…
Adrien Brandeis: Siempre Más Allá
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.
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 
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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