Brian Andres and the Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel: This Could Be That

Brian Andres and the Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel - This Could Be That - LJN

You can always count on Brian Andres and the Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel to put on a show worthy of an award. Whether this will happen with This Could Be That is a moot point at this time. However, that does not mean that the recording is not a magnificent one, full of visceral excitement and drama worthy of a top-flight ensemble. I have always admired this ensemble for their tight-knit relationships, instrumental virtuosity and the ability to surprise the ears every once in a while. This is more frequent on the recording in question where the performance of the group is flawless.

Managing a group that is as large as this requires some skill. Managing it from behind a drum set can be an even more daunting task because of where the drummer sits, which is behind most musicians from where he is quite impossible to make eye-contact with. This must surely put extra pressure on the leader to communicate telepathically with the members of his outfit. Brian Andres does this with aplomb. Another facet of the group is that it always seems to sound like a well-oiled machine, firing on all cylinders song after song after song. This is what informs the performance on This Could Be That, a beguiling title for any record. While I did not quite get the context of the title upon repeated listening its significance – the inter-changeability of the metaphors in the two separate musics, whose lines have been blurred over time, becomes clearer.

Performances throughout the record are in strict clave, but there seem to be moments – quite frequent I might add – when the musicians escape the rigors of Afro-Cuban Jazz to carve wonderful edifices of sound. One particular gem is My One and Only Love. The remarkable twists and turns in the arrangement are awesome. One can never tire of it and Aaron Germain must be especially congratulated in this score. But the true highlight of this performance is that of vocalist Venissa Santi whose star turn is spectacular. Santi is a singer not only with great pipes, but she also knows how to manipulate them to draw out the emotional story from deep within the songs that she sings.

Another wonderful piece is Banderas Rojas, featuring a regal arrangement by Germain (once again). The presence of the two sets of steel pans contributes to this in no small measure. The performance is informed by the vim and vigour of this sonic field so much so that the probing, questing intelligence is brought to bear on the emotional nakedness and loving attention to detail, something that makes this song, and – indeed – this album something of a rarity accomplished through an uncanny variety not only of rhythms but also of tonal production. Few recordings in recent months deliver on so many facets of music with such brute force, deriving its power from the insistent melodic declamatory and textures of utmost clarity.

Track List: Amyable; esto Puede Ser Eso; Limite; Les Calloux; Got a Match? My One and Only Love; Bacalaitos; Roasted to Perfection; Banderas Rojas; Relativity; Algo Nuevecito.

Personnel: Brian Andres: drum set; Aaron Germain: baby bass, electric bass, bass pans; Christian Tumalan: piano, Rhodes; Javier Cabanillas: congas, shekere, cajon, campanacoro, quinto clave, primera (conga); Omar Ledezma Jr: timbales, campana, Segundo (conga), cua; Braulio Barerra: campana; guiro; coro; Tony Peebles: tenor and alto saxophones; Hermann Lara: baritone saxophone (6); Jose Roberto Hernandez: guichoro (10); Jamie Dubberly: trombone; Mike Rinta: trombone (3); Henry Hung: flugelhorn (solo); Steffen Kuehn: trumpet, flugelhorn; Nikki Smith: coro; and featuring: Jesus Florido: violin (2); Calixto Oviedo: timbales; Mike Andres: alto saxophone (6); Venissa Santi: vocela (6); Luie Romero: Repique (conga), timbales, maracas (7); Alex Acuña: timbales; Derek Smith: steel pans (9); Michael Spiro: batá (10); John Santos: pandereta (11).

Label: Bacalao Records
Release date: December 2015
Running time: 57:52
Buy music on: amazon

About The Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel

Latin Jazz: The perfect combination. The union of two musical traditions: Jazz, a truly original art form born in the United States, espouses the freedom in music that its birth nation represents to the world. Latin, a generic term meant to encompass the numerous dance and folkloric musical styles of the Caribbean. Latin Jazz: part African, part European, it is to some, the ultimate American musical expression. Read more…

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