The word they use to refer to themselves is “powerhouse”. That, to me, sounds a little too masculine to describe nine extraordinarily beautiful ladies who do not back away from flaunting their sensuality and their attitude; something that they have tonnes of. So who better than Cocomama to create volcanic musicality as they work their way through an eleven-song, slow-burning project? The answer is no one. I cannot think of anyone or any group that could make such explosive music, so seductively – song after song, after song.
Almost all of these pieces are for solo voice and instrumental ensemble, and range in scale and sonority from intimate music accompanied frugally, to the lavish arrangements in which the passionate vocals of Sofia Tosello reign supreme and in which the thundering congas and other improvised percussion collide in a molten mix of high-voltage melodies and harmonies, and high-impact and extravagant polyrhythms. The passion with which the girls sing and play their instruments is relentless. The fact that the music is driven by the piano of Nikki Denner and the bass of Jennifer Vincent does not diminish the contributions of the wonderful trombonist Reut Regev, who makes any ensemble sound ineffable, and the various percussionists who drop their polyrhythmic bombs with depth-defying effect as well as with a myriad of colours and timbres that make the soundscape of the band explode to life.
In many ways this album sounds as if was a libretto to a mighty opera. The girls are extremely talented and mix fluidity of text with just enough lyricism to make musical drama that is both compelling and attractive and magical. The title song was premiered by a slightly smaller version of the band on Martin Cohen’s Congahead soundstage. That’s where I first saw them perform; where I experienced the seductive nature of the spells they cast on the unsuspecting. Vocalists Sofia Tosello, Ariacne Durandy and Christelle Durandy displayed a mastery of vocalastics then and they do just the same on the repertoire on this disc – especially on “Quiero” and on the Brasilian-inflected “Sivuca”. While not necessarily eclipsing the impact of these songs the rest of the music is ecstatic and just as explosive as anything else on the recording with saxophonist Camille Thurman contributing in no small measure to the proceedings.
If you crave music that is uninterruptedly arresting and as well as music that is profoundly moving then you would do well to gravitate towards Cocomama. Their recording Quiero is a terrific one. It is richly atmospheric, acoustically brilliant and the vocalists and instrumentalists have been captured in a recording that hardly lacks in authenticity. In fact I am leaning towards a top pick in vocal ensembles, in the year 2015, so far at any rate. Run out and buy yourself a copy.
Track List: Quiero; Sé Feliz; Amor En Diciembre; Il Faut Me Jurer De M’aimer; Sivuca; A Mi Medida; Is It Love? Sin Piel; Mi La Re Sol; Paisajes Cubanos; Todo.
Personnel: Nicki Denner: musical director, piano, keyboards, melodica and vocals (5, 11); Mayra Casales: congas, bongos, miscellaneous percussion and vocals (10, 11); Sofia Tosello: vocals; Reut Regev: trombone; Ariacne Trujillo: vocals and piano (1, 7); Jennifer Vincent: acoustic and baby bass, cello and vocals (11); Christelle Durandy: vocals, batá (4) and body percussion (11); Yanet Montero: timbales and congas (10); Karina Colis: drums; Camille Thurman: tenor and soprano saxophones.
Cocomama is a powerhouse all female multi-national Latin Jazz orchestra. Together since 2008, the group’s members hail from six countries on four continents! Three vocalists, a trombonist and a rhythm section of piano, bass, drums and percussion all deliver virtuosic performances. The group’s members honed their chops playing with top masters, including Ray Barretto, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente and Machito; Betty Carter, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Haden and the Duke Ellington Orchestra; the Cuban Symphonic Orchestra, Savion Glover, Paul Simon and the O’Jays! Read more…