With “Songo 7”, the first song of this album, you realize the tremendous talent Mr. Romanos and his band have for playing with heart and soul to create a profound sound full of elegance and virtuosity. Take Me There is the title of the new album by Louis Romanos, composed of twelve tracks that maintain a sequence of skillfulness and creative interpretation. This melodic venture was born in one of the great musical lands of the world, New Orleans, United States, by the percussionist and composer Louis Romanos. The project was the fruit of hope for this artist after leaving New Orleans due to the merciless hurricane Katrina, and settling in Athens, Georgia.
Each song has a little bit of Latin jazz, modern sound, bebop style and New Orleans beat. Pure synergy is expressed in each player´s performance as they propose an honest dialog where musicianship is the sweet-sounding sap that flows into its lines. A perfect example is “Lovely”, maybe the most inspiring song of this work, with special and magical power that moves the profound heartstrings of listeners. This beautiful theme starts with some smooth guitar notes that sound like a harp, like the song of mermaids hypnotizing those who listen to it. The technique and mastery of Daniel Sumner, playing the electric guitar in the intro, is an unexpected gift for music lovers who will be moved by his precision and spirit expressed through the six strings. The whispers of the double bass and drums subtly fade in becoming part of the song increasing the jazzy atmosphere. The profound sound of Alex Noppe’s flugelhorn introduces the melody with great simplicity and feeling, showing brilliance and musical energy in each note played. His flugelhorn interpretation makes me recall some unbelievable lines of master trumpeter Jerry Gonzales in his musical projects The Apache Band and El Comando de la clave; long and clear notes draw a dramatic melody based on a glittering composition.
This quartet is composed of the remarkable musicians Dan Sumner (guitar), Alex Noppe on trumpet and flugelhorn, the bassist Neal Starkey, and the leader Louis on drums. The twelve tracks were all composed and arranged by Mr. Romanos using his skills not only to compose but also to play the drums, showing exceptional sincerity. “Changes” is proof of this; Louis, accompanying the band mainly with cymbals (hit-hat, crash and ride cymbals), creates a crisp background sonority that enhances the low-pitched sound of the double bass and the bright and penetrating tone of the wind instruments.
Almost two decades ago (1997), the guitarist and drummer co-founded the musical project Permagrin, a New Orleans-based ensemble, where they started to share musically. After years of playing together on other stages, The Louis Romanos Quartet was born and now brings Take Me There to jazz lovers, an album that pays tribute to improvisation delight with melodic finesse and commitment to music. Dear passionate jazz listeners, I cannot leave you without mentioning the remarkable piece called “Spiritual”, an incomparable theme that is composed of two parts; the first is a mystical and soft instrumental ditty that combines some long Indian sounds (double bass lines) and ceremonial high tones of the cymbals with the sweetness of the trumpet prolonged notes. The second is a jazzy, happy and syncopated rhythm that slowly starts to turn into a wonderful game of improvisation and mastery. I could continue writing more about each song in this wonderful work but I prefer that you take a look and let your mind get carried away, imagining other musical roads and destinies with Take Me There.
Tracks: Songo 7; Second Song; Lovely; Aina; Klesmer; Changes; Something Different; Spiritual; Bruggemann Jam; Darling; Far Away; Green in Blew.
Personnel: Louis Romanos: Drums; Dan Sumner: Benedetto Guitar; Alex Noppe: Flugelhorn and trumpet; Neal Starkey: Double bass.
About Louis Romanos
Louis Romanos studied percussion with Idris Muhammad, John Vidacovich, Jim Atwood and Art Perretta. He began his career in music in West Hartford, CT winning first chair in the award-winning Pops ‘n’ Jazz band. This opportunity led to region competitions where Louis won awards for outstanding musicianship. He was also offered a scholarship to attend the Berkley School of Music which he turned down to go to the birthplace of Jazz, New Orleans, to study music and philosophy. He was a professional musician in the Big Easy for 15 years. 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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