Carlos Henriquez: The South Bronx Story

You may think you “know” the Bronx – and the South Bronx – in particular and depending on the time you have spent visiting it you may think you understand its unique character. But listening to The South Bronx Story, a series of vignettes about the barrio in which composer and bass-playing musician Carlos Henriquez grew up you are taken into quite another world. Clearly the intimacy with which Mr Henriquez knows his many-splendoured home is deeply affecting and this is exquisitely painted in the repertoire that unfolds on this album.

Album cover of Carlos Henriquez: The South Bronx Story
Carlos Henriquez – The South Bronx Story

Mr Henriquez is a master of his instrument and he brings to it a rumbling gravitas that is rare among his peers. This has earned him enormous respect not just with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, whose bass chair he has held for two decades and more. His Puerto Rican heritage means that his blood throbs with the rhythm of bomba and plena. More than that he has developed a singular voice in the ubiquitous language of Afro-Caribbean music, as he toured the world and impressed audiences not only with his virtuosity, but also with the depth of his pedagogy. He has also made his presence felt as an ambassador of his music on a celebrated trip to Cuba with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, a trip well-documented on record.

The South Bronx Story pees away the diaphanous curtain that flutters across el barrio. The ten songs on the album sound as if they are a sort of loosely-connected soundtrack of his life and inject a cinematic quality, launching into a broodingly percussive groove from the first evocative track “The South Bronx”, which lifts the curtain on the moving musical feast that follows. The music gushes with unfettered joy and wistful expectation through “Hydrants for All”; it roars with an angry flame on charts such as “Boro of Fire” and “Moses on the Cross” and growls and simmers under Mr Henriquez’s spoken word on “Black [Benji]. Likewise, the music ebbs and flows as if in mighty waves through the rest of the repertoire. Mr Henriquez’s vivid notes provide an essential guide to the uninitiated.

As in other recordings he has made as a leader, Mr Henriquez has brought together a celestial cast of musicians. Each one shines in ensemble and on soli that are wonderfully and idiomatically performed. Tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana, trombonist Marshall Gilkes, trumpeter Michael Rodriguez and pianist Robert Rodriguez are masterful on their outings. Trumpeter Terell Stafford and drummer Obed Calvaire and percussionist Anthony Almonte are miraculous, and Jeremy Bosch interprets Mr Henriquez’s lyrics with power and poetry. But this is Mr Henriquez’s album; one on which he outdoes himself, as he imbues this music with very special meaning and grace.

Track list – 1: The South Bronx; 2: Hydrants Love All; 3: Boro on Fire; 4: Moses on the Cross; 5: Momma Lorraine; 6: Soy Humano 7: Black [Benji]; 8: Guajeo de Papi; 9: Fort Apache; 10: Hip Hop con Clave

PersonnelCarlos Henriquez: bass, coro, guiro and spoken word [on 7]; Jeremy Bosch: flute, vocals and coro [featured on 2, 4, 6, 8, 10]; Melissa Aldana: tenor saxophone [featured on 4, 7, 9]; Michael Rodriguez: trumpet [featured on 2, 3, 5, 6, 9]; Anthony Almonte: congas and coro [featured on 1, 3, 9, 10]; Marshall Gilkes: trombone [featured on 3, 8]; Robert Rodriguez: piano and Fender Rhodes [featured on 5, 8 – 10]; Obed Calvaire: drums [featured on 1, 3, 9, 10]; Terell Stafford: trumpet [featured on 1, 2, 4, 8]

Released – 2021
Label – Tiger Turn [4164275228]
Runtime – 1:03:06

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