Loz Speyer’s Time Zone: Clave Sin Embargo

Loz Speyer's Time Zone: Clave con EmbargoHaving spent close to ten years in Oriente, in Eastern Cuba, a province that is made up of Las Tunas, Granma, Holguín, Guantánamo, and Santiago de Cuba where he spent most of his time there, Loz Speyer seems to have absorbed not only the provincial history but, more than anything else, the lessons of its cultural topography. Thus Mr Speyer has become steeped in the rhythms and emotions of tumba Francesa, changüi and other inflections of son. Best of all, Mr Speyer has been incontrovertibly affected by the spiritual and secular imperatives of what may be called conga santiaguera en el Oriente de Cuba. Naturally, he pours these influences out into his music with other members of the iconic ensemble Time Zone.

Mr Speyer may not be alone in becoming mesmerised by the heady rhythms and colourful harmonies of Afro-Cuban music. He has, however, made its voicing, textures, colours and vital rhythmic heartbeat all his own in his compositions and performance. Though the music is a clearly crafted enterprise, the vivid elements of the Cuban comparsa, of the hypnotic Lucumi worship ceremonies and the nocturnal descargas are all quite organically evoked in the songs presented here. Everywhere, the music is anchored in the rumble of Maurizio Ravalico’s congas, Dave Manington’s bass and Andy Ball’s drums, soaring melodies are met with ecstatic countermelodies and harmonies from Martin Hathaway’s alto saxophone, bass clarinet, and Stuart Hall’s guitar.

If you are expecting to find what is (so inadequately) described as salsa then you may be in the wrong club. True, this music is vivid and it dances, but Mr Speyer’s music is also woven into the diaphanous fabric of Latin-Jazz, which is to say his music is artfully subsumed not simply by Afro-Cuban forms but also melded into the ethos of Jazz with vociferous trumpet and saxophone soli (eminently alive in “Stratosphere”, “Mood Swings” and – especially in the humours of “Checkpoint Charlie”) and the loud reports of the guitarist (again, on “Checkpoint Charlie”), and this helps him somehow bring to life two disparate worlds as far removed as Oriente is from the despicable and now-dismantled Wall in erstwhile East Berlin, and Britain, where he is based.

Like all of the preeminently written Blues music and music conceived in the secret of conga and batá codes (without a batá drum in sight of the studio, in this case) Mr Speyer has, of course connected all the proverbial dots, drawing a firm line between history’s and music’s secrets. He has also revealed that he is more than simply a trumpeter blowing a wonderfully powerful horn, but a socially conscious artist making a somewhat angular statement. All of the above is painted on an exquisite musical canvas, which is most vividly and memorably depicted on “Guarapachanguero” and “Dalston Carnival”, a full-on comparsa.

You would be hard-pressed to find music so vibrant and viscerally energetic than the eight pieces on Clave Sin Embargo; and it all comes from an unexpected, yet truly welcome source – Loz Speyer’s Time Zone.

Track list – 1: Stratosphere; 2: Mood Swings; 3: Lost at Sea; 4: Full Circle; 5: Checkpoint Charlie; 6: Guarapachanguero; 7: Crossing the Line; 8: Dalston Carnival

Personnel – Loz Speyer: trumpet and flugelhorn; Martin Hathaway: alto saxophone and bass clarinet; Stuart Hall: guitar; Dave Manington: contrabass; Maurizio Ravalico: congas; Andy Ball: drums

Released – 2019
Label – Spherical Records (SPR005)
Runtime – 1:01:17

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

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...

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...

Join our mailing list

Participate in contests, giveaways and more