Victor Rendón has often flown slightly under the populist radar. It has been quite another matter among his peers and among discerning listeners, the cognoscenti and connoisseurs of fine music. There is very good reason why. Rendón is a musician’s musician. He has impeccable taste and because he is a performer of such a varied assortment of percussion instruments he is a colourist of the highest order not only bringing forth a myriad of vibrant colours in all of their primal glory, but because he can colour his music with nuanced tone and hue. This is evident in his masterful grasp of the bolero, which he plays as if he were a sorcerer.
Rendón is a complete musician. His compositions tell you that. He is master of many forms and on True Flight you get the full impact of this from end to end. He has, admittedly, brought only two charts to the recording and yet these are revelation. ‘True Flight’ is a composition with a silken glide. Here percussion colours are daubed by rhythmic dabs of the artist in the throes of ecstasy, while brass and woodwinds create the updraft of swirling air which lifts every note as if in offering to the Orishas. ‘Café Sin Leche’ is more down to earth and while it begins with a somewhat simplistic melody, the music is raised to a great height by the time the music reaches halfway through. Other musicians have also contributed greatly to the recording and ‘Lagos’ stands out as perhaps the finest tune here. Written by trombonist Rick Faulkner, it is a dark, imaginative tune with a beautiful melody lain upon a dramatic bed of batá drums.
True Flight is one of those albums that will rev up the blood-beat of even the casual listener to a dancing frenzy. This is the other interesting aspect of the performance of the Bronx Conexión Latin-Jazz Band. Many albums might end on a sort of ‘down-beat’ having created a sensationally vigorous beginning and middle. Rendón and Cascadu do the unexpected with a wonderful arrangement of Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman, No Cry’, the latter laying the groundwork for the finale with a beautiful rhythm-only propulsion at the beginning followed by Rendón’s superb horn arrangement to bring the song and the album to a memorable close.
Track List – True Flight; Generoso; Café Sin Leche; Europa (Earth’s Cry Heaven’s Smile); Buena Gente; Island Woman; Oriente; Lagos; No Woman, No Cry.
Personnel – Victor Rendón: timbales, batá (Iya), shekere, quijada, frog rasp, rainstick; Wilson ‘Chembo’ Corniel: congas, batá (Itotele), campaña, woodblocks, clave, ocean drum; Cascadu: shekere, cajón base, batá (Okonkolo), pandeiro, cuica, triangle, cricket, tan-tan, shakers, frog rasp, woodblocks, wind chimes, pads, rainstick, miscellaneous percussion, vocals (6, 9); Yasuyo Kimura: bongo and cancero, shekere, guataca, shaker, cajón, repicodor, frog rasp, agogo; Ron Smith: drum set; Jessica Valente: flute; Al Acosta: alto saxophone; Debra Kreisberg: alto saxophone, clarinet; Joe Stelluti: tenor saxophone, flute; Chris Stelluti: tenor saxophone, flute; Karl Watson: baritone saxophone, clarinet; Anibal Martinez: trumpet, flugelhorn; Guido Gonzalez: trumpet, flugelhorn; John Replogle: trumpet, flugelhorn; Rick Faulkner: trombone; Joe Mannozzi: piano; Ray Martinez: bass; Claudio Roditi: trumpet solos (3, 8); Jennifer Freedman: background vocal (9); Johnny Rodriguez: bongo (2, 4, 7); Jorge Maldonado: maracas and güiro (2, 4, 7); Lew Tabackin: tenor saxophone solo (5); Lou Marini: tenor saxophone (6).
Released – 2016
Label – Tortilla Flat
Runtime – 54:33