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Hugo Cruz and Caminos: Punto de Partida

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Hugo Cruz and Caminos

There is an infectious effervescence about the music on Punto de Partida by Hugo Cruz and Caminos, and this is perhaps, the most winning aspect of the recording by the Cuban-born drummer and percussion colourist. The music fairly springs out of the blocks with a muscular tension that brooks no obstacle or opposition, the ensemble gathered [together here] a perfectly weighted body in total control of its limbs and members.

Hugo Cruz and Caminos: Punto de Partida
Hugo Cruz and Caminos: Punto de Partida

The pieces “Descarga” and “Afro Fusion” fairly bristle with energy, wit and surprise. Why the latter quality may take you by surprise is because you may be expecting to be bombarded by clave and montuno, whereas what you get is completely novel creativity in melody, harmony and – especially – rhythmic invention. By the time the music reaches its climax [in both instances] you are so filled with wonder that you forget that you may have come to this music with notions of what is predictable.

In fact, nothing is predictable about this music, all of which has been composed by Mr Cruz. If you respect tradition, you will renew it – and in a personal way. You will not be disappointed for you will hear performances that, while traditional in their rhythmic cues, are also luxuriously appointed with the forces that spell change in dogma. Momentum in pulse and tempo is arrestingly gained at every turn. Themes of songs, their exploitation and cadences arrive with marvelous turn of phrase and lyrically-sculpted lines. All of this comes spectacularly together on “El Cimarrón” in the batá symphony performed by Mr Cruz [batá – iyá], Akin Lawmon [batá – itótele] and Anthony Mitchell Jr [batá – okónkolo] – together with the rest of the ensemble responding with some fine, idiomatic performances.

The two chordal instruments – piano/keyboard and guitar are completely devoid of rhetoric. The performers of both instruments are relentlessly energetic in every instance. Horns add elegant colour and texture throughout. And the violin parts, exquisitely played by Hugo Armando Cruz Olmo [the drumming Cruz’s father] on “Latin Meaning” make for the drummer/composer’s unique palimpsest, which makes for a unique take on the music’s cultural topography as espoused by a young drummer who is opinionated, yet studiously and utterly cognizant of the rich tradition from whence this music has sprung.

Tracks: 1: Descarga; 2: Atravesado; 3: Afro Fusion; 4: For All of You; 5: Drumeando; 6: El Cimarrón; 7: Experiment; 8: Latin Morning

Musicians – Roger Romero: tenor saxophone [1, 2, 6, 8] and alto saxophone [5, 7]; Jesús Ricardo Anduz Seoane: trumpet [1, 2, 8]; Michael Spearman: trombone [1, 2, 6,]; Reinel Faunde Mondeja: trombone [8]; Carlos Gaytan: keyboards [1, 6, 8], piano [1] and organ [5]; Michael Bernabe: keyboard [2 – 4, 7]; Marcos Alonso Brito: electric guitar [1, 3]; John Shannon: electric guitar [2, 7]; Hugo Armando Cruz Olmo: violin [8]; Niel Mirada: bass [1, 8]; Eli Naragon: bass [2 – 7]; Hugo Cruz: drum set [1 – 7]; conga [1 – 3, 5, 6, 8], timbales [2, 8], bongó [7, 8]; batá [5], batá – iyá [6], shekere [3], percussion, synthesizer [6], vocals [6] and background vocals [8]; Akin Lawmon: batá – itótele [6]; Anthony Mitchell Jr: batá – okónkolo [6]; Maikel Dinza: vocals [8]; Degnis Nelson Bofill Miranda: background vocals [8]

Released – 2022
Label – CD Baby
Runtime – 45:29

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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