Adriano Clemente is an Italian multi-instrumentalist (who plays Columbian harp, piano and saxophone) and composer who has pushed his own horizons so much further outside Europe – from beyond India to far-flung Cuba – and continues to live in a Time Warp that stretches from the England of William Blake to the India of the Mughals and Tansen, to the Cuba of Bebo Valdés and further past, present and future. In fact, most times there is no telling what time Mr Clemente might inhabit or where he might go especially with his Akashmani Ensemble, a floating outfit that morphs into bold new configurations depending, quite literally, on where his heart takes him. For this project, he dwelt in Cuba for a time plumbing the depths of that music and recording this extraordinary tribute to its grandmasters.
Havana Blue is a collection of nine songs centred round Mr Clemente’s “Latin Nostalgia Suite”. The name of this four-movement work is slightly misleading and might, at first glance, give the impression that it dwells in the past. In actual fact it is far from that and although it takes its cue from the music of Bebo Valdés, it actually proceeds to adapt the many Afro-Cuban rhythmic and dance forms and creates a kind of modern chamber around them. It is a Romantic work, no doubt, but eschews sentimentality completely, focusing instead on the rhythmic allure of Afro Cuban music; its colours and textures and the harmonic splendor that was brought from Spain to be melded into the Afro-Caribbean traditional musical forms that were – and continue to flourish all over the islands. As always what is most interesting when such a cultural collision takes place it is the new perspective that results which is most beckoning.
Adriano Clemente convinced the young pianist Leyanis Valdés to be part of this particular Akashmani Project. Significantly Miss Valdés happens to be the granddaughter of the legendary Bebo Valdés and is, as a matter of fact, the daughter of the great Chucho Valdés. Not without reason then does this music unfold magically, seeming to dwell in an interminable continuum that is uniquely Afro-Cuban and this aspect of Mr Clemente’s genius is wonderfully evident in the extraordinary bolero “Havana Blue”, a gorgeous bittersweet piece written in the grand manner of great Cuban boleros. Miss Valdés is, of course, not the only wonderful musician on the album which also includes a terrific contrabassist – Yandy Martinez as well as a brilliant trio of Cuban percussionists and five brass and winds players. Not surprisingly, Adriano Clemente’s music makes the heart beat faster song after song.
Track list – 1: Bebo de Cuba; 2: Blue Calypso; 3: Bauzá; 4: Latin Nostalgia, Pt. 1; 5: Latin Nostalgia, Pt. 2; 6: Latin Nostalgia, Pt. 3; 7: Latin Nostalgia, Pt. 4; 8: Sambossa; 9: Havana Blue.
Personnel – Santiago Ceballos: trumpet; Heikel Trimiño: trombone; Yuniet Lombida: alto and baritone saxophone (1 – 3, 8); Victor Guzman: alto and baritone saxophone (4 – 7, 9); Emir Santa Cruz: tenor saxophone and clarinet; Leyanis Valdés: piano; Yandy Martinez: contrabass; Augusto Lage: congas; Lennon Ruiz: timbales, snare drum and claves; Adel Rodriguez: bongos, maracas, güiro and cowbell.
Released – 2017
Label – Fonosfere Records
Runtime – 55:01