César Orozco & Kamarata Jazz: Rooted Forward

Featured Album *****

Any recording by the inimitable César Orozco & Kamarata Jazz would be one to look forward to, but his 2020 release Rooted Forward is one that is enormously attractive for a number of reasons. The compositions and arrangements are particularly ambitious. They feature not only some of the finest young musicians in the world [who also happen to be fellow-Venezuelan] such as percussionists Fran Vielma, Diego “El Negro” Alvarez, Pablo Bencid, and from the renowned C4 Trio: the great Venezuelan cuatro master Jorge Glem and electric bassist Rodner Padilla [who co-produces this masterpiece]. The brilliant saxophonists Antonio Orta and Troy Roberts are also among the cast of musicians. Such an august assembly naturally requires special attention to production values and in that regard, both Mr Orozco and Mr Padilla have given it their all and then some.

For the record, Mr Orozco has always impressed not only with his expert grasp of music’s historical continuum, but how he has shaped his own sense of history within that continuum. The pianist has shown himself to be a lightning rod that attracts the fiery rhythms of Venezuelan music which have also – in his wonderful music – ignited his wild yen for electrifying improvisation. He is, of course possessed of a flawless technique and this has enabled him to do things few pianists can. A remarkable example of Mr Orozco’s breathtaking compositional ability is “Tierra Valiente” a slyly-inflected joropo in which he carves up the keyboard leaping forth with almost insolently athletic glissandos. Mr Orozco also pays lusty tribute to Afro-Caribbean music in general with a incendiary rumba/guagancó “Volao Rumba” in which Mr Bencid is particularly explosive.

César Orozco is one of the most renowned new voices to come out of Venezuela along with Jorge Glem [extreme left] who helms the C4 Trio, pictured here, which also includes Rodner Padilla [extreme right]

Throughout we are regaled by the thrillingly orchestrated music, highly polished performances, with each song featuring high-spirited soloing – from the fluid virtuosity of Jorge Glem on the Venezuelan cuatro to the overwhelming intensity and fire of the percussionists Fran Vielma and Diego “El Negro” Alvarez, and of drummer Pablo Bencid, who together with the oomph and gravitas of Rodner Padilla and Gabriel Vivas’ basses, add a rhythmic muscularity. But all is not brimstone and fire; there is also much delicacy and elegance – especially in the gorgeous rendition of Ibrahim Bracho’s “Sueño Y Anhelo” adapted from a Venezuelan traditional song with the seemingly interminable lilt of Venezuela’s gaita-aguinaldo form; a song that is raised to the rarefied realm by the celestial voice of Natasha Bravo. While the high and lonesome voice of Marcial Istúriz graces Orozco’s beautiful work “Como Dice Danilo”. Soli are judiciously distributed among the constellation of virtuoso instrumentalists – from Mr Glem to Jazz voices of Troy Roberts and Alex Norris.

Always front and centre though is the breathtaking pianism of César Orozco who illuminates his compositions not only with almost inhuman virtuosity, but with incomparable touch. Often when he plays his instrument he makes everything sound simple, yet each note feels as if it is a separate pebble gently dropped into a pool, from there to send out infectious ripples that seem to multiply – not surprisingly – when they attract the ingenuity of Mr Glem’s, Mr Vielma’s, Mr Alvarez and Mr Bencid’s own respective virtuosity. In sum, these are works with which Mr Orozco acquits himself with uncommon distinction, tirelessly seeking out the restlessly changing colours and textures of – as he puts it Venezuelan “Kamarata Jazz” with the help of which [or whom] he delivers his ultimate coup de grâce on Rooted Forward.

Track list – 1: Heavy Wave; 2: Como Dice Danilo; 3: Chacha Para Purri; 4: Rooted Forward; 5: Tierra Valiente; 6: Spiral City; 7: Volao Rumba; 8: Sueño y Anhelo; 9: Con Mi Tambor

Personnel – César Orozco: piano, compositions, arrangements, lead vocal [9] and backing vocals; Rodner Padilla: electric bass [1 – 4, 6, 8, 9 solo on 3]; Jorge Glem: Venezuelan cuatro [soli on 1, 8]; Gabriel Vivas: contrabass [5, 7]; Pablo Bencid: drum set [2, 4 – 7, 9 solo on 7]; Diego “El Negro” Alvarez: batcusión [1, 3], cajón [4, 8] and Afro-Venezuelan drums – cumaco, clarín & laures – [9 and soli on 1, 4]; Fran Vielma: congas [2, 3, 5], guiro [2, 3] and Afro-Venezuelan drums – clarín and laures – [9 and soli on 2, 9]; Roberto Moreno: congas, quinto, chekeré, claves and catá [9]; Troy Roberts: tenor saxophone [soli on 4, 6, 9] and soprano saxophone [7]; Antonio Luis Orta: tenor saxophone [1, 9], alto saxophones [1, 7, 9] and soprano saxophone [3] and solo on 4; Tyler Mire: 1st trumpet [1, 9]; Alex Norris: 2nd trumpet [1, 9 and solo on 1]; Luke Brimhall: trombone [1, 9]; Natasha Bravo: lead vocal [8]; Marcial Istúriz: lead vocal [2]; Zamira Briceño: backing vocals [2, 9]; David Alastre: backing vocals [2, 9]

Released – 2020
Label – Independent
Runtime – 54:44

César Orozco & Kamarata Jazz - No Limits For Tumbao

Suggested reading:
César Orozco & Kamarata Jazz: No Limits for Tumbao
On this album César Orozco looks closer to the drama, the wit, variation and endless elegance of…

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

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related posts

FROM OUR VINYL STOREspot_img
FROM OUR VINYL STOREspot_img

Featured Posts

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...

El Gran Fellové: Part 2- Enter Chocolate & Celio González

Early Sunday morning… I awoke to the pleasant surprise of a Google Alert in my email. I clicked to find Variety Magazine had published an...

El Gran Fellové: Part 1- The Beginning

Francisco Fellové Valdés (October 7, 1923 – February 15, 2013), also known as El Gran Fellové (The Great Fellove), was a Cuban songwriter and...

Bobby Paunetto, New York City and The Synthesis of Music

Bobby Paunetto was an unforgettable composer, arranger, musician and recording artist. Latin Jazz Network honors him on the tenth anniversary of his death (8.10.10). His...

Jazz Plaza 2020: Ancient to the Future

Chapter four of our series: 35th Jazz Plaza International Festival in Havana In recent months I found myself in profound reflection of the term...

Ray Martinez and the Forgotten Legacy of Jazz

Sometime in the very near future, several of the jazz world's best known writers and musicologists will meet in some obscure conclave to pool...

Join our mailing list

Participate in contests, giveaways and more