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Chico Alvarez “El Montunero” – Country Roots/Urban Masters

Review written by: Raul da Gama One of the most endearing aspects of the great Afro-Cuban bands of the past—bands like those led by Mario...

Andrés Ortíz Trio – Recordando (Zone di Musica 2011)

For those wishing to hear what kind of music the Andrés Ortiz Trio makes, here is a clue: it would not be possible to describe it in two familiar words: “Latin Jazz”. The two words are most often ascribed to a musician of South American or Southern European origin and although two thirds of the trio would qualify for such ethnicity, their music has a much broader musical topography. The music swings—not only in the rhythmic sense—but in a broader, more classical [...]

Aguabella – Nuestra Era (Self Published 2011)

There has not been much activity in the form of homages or tributes to Francisco Aguabella, so perhaps the arrival of Nuestra Era is a blessing. The late percussionist has come to be revered as one of the greatest masters of Afro-Cuban music. He spent the mature years of his life enriching the music of the American West Coast bringing the sanctity and aural worship of the Santeria with his batá drums to the idiom of Latin Jazz [...]

Meeco – Beauty Of The Night (Connector Records 2012)

The extraordinary songwriter and producer, Meeco’s new album, Beauty Of The Night comes with a hidden cautionary note which is not visible or audible until the first strains of the music is heard: It is an elementally sad album and a box of Kleenex may be de rigueur. However, this is not to say that the album is not beautiful. After all, in immense sadness there is beauty as well. Meeco should know this. He is smitten with things Brazilian [...]

Chilcano – Madera Corazón (Saponegro Records 2011)

Trumpeter Gabriel Alegría’s first album to attract attention was the sensational Nuevo Mundo, which featured his seminal sextet, an ensemble that included one of the greatest living Peruvian musical masters, Freddy “Huevito” Lobaton, a percussionist whose genius is every bit the equal to that other great Latin American, Nana Vasconscelos of Brazil. The personnel in that ensemble—with a change of bassist—produced another startling album, Pucusana [...]

Jon Gold – Bossa of Possibility (Blujazz Productions 2012)

Jon Gold is one of the most exciting virtuoso pianists, imaginative composers and original orchestrators in art of two important musical idioms—Brazilian and American. The fact that he melds musical linguistics like that other master who is tucked away in the Northwest, Jovino Santos Neto, shows him to be possessed of an essentially Brazilian soul. And this makes Gold a Brasiliero – a Carioca, when he makes an invisible leap into the sand and surf of Ipanema [...]

Enrique Fernandez – Cantos del Sexto Sol (Round Whirled 2011)

There is a visceral intensity to Cantos Del Sexto Col, the fiery album by reeds and woodwinds maestro Enrique Fernandez. This comes from the ferocious viscosity that swirls and swaggers in what appears to be a myriad of layers of sounds emerging from the instruments he plays, seemingly all at once. Each is annunciated with an apocalyptic shout and all meld with molten splendour into a soup of idiomatic musical dialects—spiritual and profane [...]
Elio Villafranca, Arturo Stable - Dos y Más

Elio Villafranca, Arturo Stable: Dos y Más

Elio Villafranca is one of the most exciting young trio of pianists to come out of Cuba in recent years; the other two being...

Bye-Ya! The Latin Jazz Quintet – Further Arrivals (Challenge 2010)

On Further Arrivals two forces of nature come together. One is the molten voice of Brian Lynch’s trumpet and the other is the very exciting European quartet that goes by the name: Bye-Ya! On the face of it this fine ensemble might appear to be a tribute to Thelonious Monk and, indeed, their chattering approach to music might well be the debt they owe to His Great Outness. However, the music dances to a Latin American rhythm and so, these three men and a woman [...]

Mario Adnet – More Jobim Jazz (Adventure Music – 2011)

Of all the musicians who have contributed to keeping the repertoire of great Brazilian composers alive, Mario Adnet may be making the greatest contribution here. Like trombonist Roswell Rudd, soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy and pianist Misha Mengleberg who gone to great lengths to keep the music of the great pianist and composer Herbie Nichols’ and (to a certain extent) Thelonious Monk’s repertoire alive, the guitarist Adnet has created some of [...]
Claudio Roditi - Bons Amigos

Claudio Roditi: Bons Amigos

Most fans, even aficionados of contemporary music, still only vaguely know the great trumpeter Claudio Roditi as the “Brazilian who joined Arturo Sandoval in...

Duduka da Fonseca Trio Plays Toninho Horta (Zoho Music – 2011)

One of the main reasons why Brazilian music has been preserved and, more importantly, kept alive through the generations has been the readiness of newer generations of musicians to create repertory albums in homage to that country’s master musicians. Over the years there have been a slew of beautiful tributes to classical masters such as Heitor Villa Lobos, from João Carlos Assis Brasil’s legendary album A Floresta do Amazonas [...]

Hendrik Meurkens: Live at Bird’s Eye

Hendrik Meurkens is, most certainly, one of the greatest musical adventurers from Europe. The harmonica wunderkind who also happens to be a fine vibraphone player seems to have almost singlehandedly rediscovered Brazil decades after Stan Getz and Joe Henderson did almost five decades ago. In doing so Meurkens along with the grandmaster of the harmonica, Toots Thielemans, has cast a refreshing light on Brazilian music [...]

Laura Fernandez – Un Solo Beso (Self Published – 2011)

There is a certain fire that burns with a quietude that, although atypical of the Latin soul, still contains much of the passion that is contained in it. In fact the passion is so contained that the fire actually soars with its very chill. The music of Laura Fernandez “burns” with this cold fire. Much of Miles Davis’ music was “hot” in that sense (that) it burned with a similar quiet fire. Conventional wisdom dictates that Latin music is not meant to be cool but fiery and hot [...]

Steve Khan – Parting Shot (Tone Center – 2011)

Parting Shot (Golpe de Partida) is an extraordinary debut for the guitarist, Steve Khan. He is veteran by any stretch of imagination, but in the company of illustrious peers such as Al Di Meola, Lee Ritenour and others he appears almost self-effacing for this is his first full foray into the realm of the Latin American musical idiom. Khan has always been known for possessing near-perfect technique, which when combined with his whisper-soft [...]

Afrodisian Orchestra – Satierismos (Youkali Music – 2011)

It is hardly surprising that Erik Satie has become the darling of modern composers and musicians alike. The reputedly eccentric French composer who lived between the late-19th and the early 20th Century was very much a musician far ahead of his time. Breaking away from the late-Romantics, Satie predated many movements in various artistic disciplines, from Dadaism and Surrealism in painting; and muzak or elevator music, by fifty years [...]

T.K. Blue: Latin Bird

The hypothesis that in Charlie “Bird” Parker’s music the cultures of the world collided may be new, even unheard of until now. The elemental polyrhythms of Africa were melded into the folk forms of America and both were glorified in the polyphony of European music as Bird soared. The alto saxophonist wrote and played like a pianist; sang like a choir of angels and broke endless boundaries creating a music so timeless and elastic that it will, no doubt, live forever [...]

Omar Sosa – Calma: Solo Piano &… (Otá Records – 2011)

If anything, Omar Sosa has always been a spiritual artist. Connected for generations with the practice of Santería, Sosa was surrounded by the worship together with a communion of saints, but in a truly Afro-centric manner. The particularly molten staccato of the batá drums has held sway in the melodic rhythms of his music. In fact, some of his finest earlier work has burst forth as out of a spiritual vortex shuffling with forthright swagger, churning in [...]

Yamandú Costa e Hamilton de Holanda – Live (Adventure Music)

When Brazil laughs, the world laughs with her. When she cries the world cries with her. No more is there greater evidence of this when the music of that majestic country is played, especially when musicians with the ingenuity of Heitor Villa Lobos, Pixinguinha, Guinga, Chico Buarque, Hermeto Pascoal, and Egberto Gismonti among others sing of her beauty and grand design. In that magnificent musical geometry and in the edifice of her epic tradition [...]

Daniel Smith – Bassoon Goes Latin Jazz (Summit Records – 2011)

The bassoon, that ubiquitous double-reed instrument, which featured prominently in the Baroque, Romantic and Classical eras of music, has been a relatively sparingly played—especially in solo settings—in the modern era. In jazz, which is all but synonymous with experimentalism, the bassoon has been very sparingly used. There are so few exponents of this odd, but beautiful instrument that wide gaps exist between Illinois Jacquet, Yusef Lateef and [...]