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Afro-Cuban Jazz & Beyond: Durán & Berroa

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Hilario Duran - Ignacio Berroa - Afro-Cuban Jazz & Beyond

Afro-Cuban Jazz & Beyond
Hilario Durán & Ignacio Berroa
Chris Mitchell, Jorge Luis Torres and Roberto Occhipinti
*Canadian Summer Tour 2015

The influence of Afro-Cuban music goes beyond geographical borders and has left an undeniable mark on Jazz, America’s original art form. Grammy winner drummer Ignacio Berroa and piano master Hilario Durán join forces with legendary Halifax saxophone player Chris Mitchell, bassist extraordinaire Roberto Occhipinti and child prodigy, percussionist Jorge Luis Torres “Papiosco.” They will perform a full range of Afro-Cuban music in a big band format with the Jazz orchestra of some Canadian cities during their tour. In addition, this presentation offers an audiovisual presentation (workshop) wherever possible and also performance in a quintet formation.

Canadian Summer Tour

*This tour also includes one performance in the USA at the Rochester Jazz Festival on June 24, 2015.

The Band

Maestro Hilario Durán and Ignacio Berroa bring their infinite range of styles presenting the legacy of extraordinary music. The Havana-born, Toronto-based pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader is planning to showcase his virtuosity and versatility with brilliant cohorts. The program offers a varied selection of music well elaborated.

Hilario Durán: Musician of the Year by the Toronto Musicians Association; Vision Award Winner “Premio a la Trayectoria” – Hilario’s formal music training, combined with a deep understanding of traditional Cuban music, as well as a love for jazz, allowed him to play a key role in the integration of Afro-Cuban music and jazz.

Ignacio Berroa: He is the only drummer in the history of American music that has traversed the world of Afro-Cuban rhythms and jazz drumming, as per Dizzy Gillespie’s own words. Ignacio Berroa is the only non-American drummer who has set a pattern in the history of Jazz. Mr. Berroa was drummer for Dizzy Gillespie in all major groups he had during the last 10 years of his life. To this we can add that Ignacio Berroa has recorded and performed with countless jazz greats.

Chris Mitchell: His mastery of a diversity of styles and proficiency in several music genres has earned him a huge reputation. Dalhousie music professor Chris Mitchell is more than welcome in this presentation, ratifying one more time his profile as a top-notch flautist and saxophonist.

Jorge Luis Torres: A self-taught musician, a child prodigy who began playing the percussion instrument at the age of three; who now makes Toronto his home, comes from a long line of virtuosic rumberos who helped define the shape and direction of Cuban music throughout the years.

Roberto Occhipinti: There is no word to describe this versatile and talented musician. He is one of a small number of musicians who have had successful careers in both classical music and jazz; in addition, he is also one of the Canadian musicians that have taken the time to revisit the glorious history of Cuban music.

Afro-Cuban Jazz & Beyond – The Music

Latin Jazz is considered by many to be a heterogeneous mixture of Latin rhythms. However, few people are completely aware of how the beats of Afro-Cuban music evolved and became central to Jazz music.

“Afro-Cuban Jazz and Beyond” presents an historical view of the circumstances involved in the development of Afro-Cuban Music, beginning with the arrival of African slaves in Cuba, the Caribbean, the United States and Brazil. Ignacio, Hilario, Chris, Roberto and Jorge forge the perfect musical marriage for this unique endeavor drawing on Durán and Berroa’s natural cultural background and career-long exploration of Afro-Cuban rhythms. From his unique point of view, Berroa describes how certain African groups left their marks on the evolution of Afro-Cuban music, the rhythmic similarities and differences between the countries where slaves arrived in the New World, the strong musical connection between Cuba and the United States, and how Afro-Cuban Jazz has developed.


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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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