Adriano Clemente – Havana Blue

Adriano Clemente: Havana Blue

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

Raul Da Gama
Raul Da Gama
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.

More from author


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related posts


Featured Posts

Omar Sosa’s 88 Well-Tuned Drums: A Film by Soren Sorensen

Anyone approaching this film about the iconic Cuban composer and pianist Omar Sosa, by the award-winning filmmaker Soren Sorensen will be almost immediately struck...

Danilo Pérez featuring The Global Messengers: Crisálida

Danilo Pérez began forming his worldview - and aligning his music to it - ever since he came under the sphere of influence of...

The Feeling Messengers, Past and Present (Part II)

Miguelo Valdés & The New Messengers Of Feeling Miguel Valdés, or “Miguelo”, as he has since become known, was born in the province of La...

The Feeling Messengers, Past and Present (Part I)

Preamble Within the current renaissance of popular Cuban music, coupled with the seemingly eternal presence of its first cousin American Jazz, we are once again...

In Conversation with Carlos Cippelletti

Pianist, composer and arranger Carlos Cippelletti, is a promising young Spanish, Franco-Cuban artist from the last generation of Afro-Cuban jazz musicians born outside the...

Celebrating Jane Bunnett: Spirits of Havana’s 30th Anniversary

After dark they gather, the spirits of Havana. Is that a ghostly, but fatback-toned rapping down in the barrio where the great composer and...

Piazzolla Cien Años: Lord of the Tango@100

There is a now famous photograph of the great Ástor Piazzolla that is iconic for so many reasons. Chief among them is the manner...

Omara Portuondo, Multifaceted Gem of Cuban Music

My moon app announces that in 14 hours the Supermoon of May will be here. During a full moon I often get inspired to...

Ray Barretto · Barretto Power

Barretto Power: A Celebratory Reissue on its 50th Anniversary It was 1970 when Fania Records released Barretto Power, one of a series of seminal albums...

El Gran Fellové: Part 3- When my Parents…

When my parents bought their home in 1968, Sunset Beach was just another sleepy little beach town It spanned about one mile in length, sandwiched...

Join our mailing list

Participate in contests, giveaways and more