Experimenting with the melding together of idiomatic musical languages can be touch-and-go. Strong musical “linguistic” characteristics can often come in the way of a successful collision. But there are some notable successes: Béla Bartók’s ineffable and molten mix of folk music with the classical idiom, and closer to this era, MJQ’s enduring marriage of the classical and the jazz idioms. To these exemplary standard bearers we must add the collision of Cuban son and jazz. And here’s evidence of this: it’s in the majestic album by Pancho Amat, the great tresero and his son Daniel Amat called Haciendo Son en Otro Jazz, literally meaning “making son in other jazz”. This literal translation has an important connotation. It suggests—and rightfully so—that the music produced is wholly new and not simply a rejuvenation of what we have come to call “Latin Jazz” -that almost tired description of a music that is actually at once Latin and Jazz. Still Haciendo Son en Otro Jazz goes beyond all of that and in its spectacular manner: it opens the heart of music itself allowing us to enter into a wonderful process of creation by these musicians, letting us observe the making of something entirely new at very close quarters.
There is an elemental reason why this album has turned out the way it has. As rare as the result is, it could not have turned out any other way. Pancho Amat is a master, a tresero unlike any other in a fairly crowded field of musicians playing a very familiar Cuban instrument. This maestro appears to have assimilated the grammar of the various musical languages not by rote—not because he has learned, that is, to “speak” or play his heart out in an idiom that is variously Afro-Cuban and Jazz. Mr. Pancho Amat actually can dream in Afro-Cuban and Jazz idioms. Thus his music moves seamlessly in and out of Afro-Cuban music and Jazz in a visceral manner. Such is his intuition; so overwhelming is his right brain. The same holds true for Daniel Amat, for whom it might seem easier as he plays an instrument—the piano—that has a more universal presence in music. However, it bears mention that it does not take technique to make a successful marriage of musical idioms. In Daniel Amat’s case it took or takes being born with a gift of extraordinary skill and expression that only a few artists have. In the words of Horace—poeta nascitur non fit—a poet is born not made.
And so this extraordinary music has been made truly “making son in other jazz”. The centrality of the music is its interaction of piano and tres. Far from being bashful, this dance of rhythmic instruments creates a proverbial explosion of melodic intensity. It is almost as if we witness two dancers waxing across a floor in both statuesque and intimate moves. The pirouetting and gliding movements are characterised by vaunted runs and ferocious arpeggios in the case of the piano and fluttering and skittering sleights of hand in the case of the tres. Such is the craftsmanship of “Mejunje,” with its dazzling virtuoso passages and plangent slow movements. “Pa’que Aprendas” and “Ariana” are equally so: songs that reveal the vibrantly colourful spectrum of not simply the harmonic language of piano and tres, but also in the string arrangements (in the case of the latter piece). And then there is the high class and suavity of “Aires de Mozart”. For here is a song that captures Mozart’s complex polyphony in a most dramatic manner. To speak of just these pieces alone would be a travesty. There is not a bad chart on the album. Also the clear sound of this CD has a striking immediacy, which only serves to enhance these fine performances, not just of Pancho and Daniel Amat, but of the other musicians on this date as well.
Track List: Mejunje; Pa’que Aprendas; Ajiaco; Ariana; Ma’duro; Congo Yambumba; Encuentro; Mima; Aires de Mozart.
Personnel: Daniel Amat: piano, chorus (4, 6); Francisco “Pancho” Amat: tres, chorus (4); José Francisco Amat Rodriguez: bass; William Borrego: maracas, guiro and chorus (4, 6); Tomas Ramos “El Panga”: timbal, tumbadora, bongo, claves, campana, chekere and caja; Irving Frontela: violin and viola (4, 7); Lester Monier: cello (4); Martin Rodriguez: claves (8); Amado de Jesús Dedeu: vocal and chorus (6); Amado Dedeu García; Adonis Andrés Ponter Calderon: quinto and chorus (6); Rogelio Ernesto Gatell Coto: second voice and chorus (6); Yudisleidy Valdés Mena: chorus (6); Yuko Fong Matos: chorus (6); Yasek Manzano: trumpet (2).
Label: Producciones Colibrí | Release date: 2013
Buy music on: amazon
About Pancho Amat
In some ways Pancho Amat is an unlikely hero. He is a spontaneous and unaffected man who conveys wisdom in an open and frank manner. A guajiro in the best sense of the word, his great love is the Cuban Tres, which is part of Cuba’s most important musical heritage. Over the course of several decades he is the musician who has most contributed to universalize the tres through recordings or live performances with musicians from Cuba and other countries, such as Joaquin Sabina, Oscar D’Leon, Pablo Milanés, Rosana, Ry Cooder, Silvio Rodríguez, Victor Victor, Yomo Toro and Victor Jara. Read more…
About Daniel Amat
Cuban pianist born in a small town of Havana called Güira de Melena. He grew up surrounded by the rhythms and harmonies of his native Cuba. From a very young age he was influenced by his father Pancho Amat, one of the most important tres players of all times, who passed him the tradition of son, trova, and rumba. While pursuing his formal studies at the National School of Music in Havana, Daniel came in contact with classical music, jazz, and the music of Latin-American composers. Years later he graduated from the National School of Music receiving a degree of classical pianist and professor… Read more…