Dark Latin Groove, "DLG," CD, TL-15037.10
Review: Dark Latin Groove
by George Rivera
DE ALLA PA’CA Emigeba 2
In 1994 Eugenio “Genio” Acosta Ithier envisioned a musical exchange between Puerto Rico and Cuba. His plan was to gather some of the best soneros and musicians in Puerto Rico to record a tribute to the contemporary Cuban composers. He accomplished this task and named it DE AQUI PA’LLA and released it in 1995. A year later we have it’s counterpart, DE ALLA PA’CA. For this project some of the best soneros and musicians in Cuba were assembled to pay homage to some of Puerto Rico’s best composers under the musical direction of NG La Banda’s Jose Luis Cortes. Rafael Hernandez (“Oprobio”), Bobby Capo (“Y Llorando Me Dormi”), Tite Curet Alonzo (“Para Que Volver”) and Perin Vazquez (“Todavia” & “El Menu”) are among those honored by the voices of Issac Delgado, Mariano Mena, Angel Bonne, and Tony Cala. The Cuban songo style that is so prevalent these days was abandoned for this project. What you get is salsa picante throughout the session. Both of these productions are well worth the investment due to their musicality and the historical musical exchange between these two hotbeds of rhythm.
PORTRAITS OF CUBA Chesky JD145
This latest release from Cuban master musician Paquito D’Rivera, in conjunction with master arranger, composer, conductor Carlos Franzetti, is one of his best to date. This CD covers 100 years of Cuban music. Jose White (“La Bella Cubana”), Cesar Portillo de la Luz(“Tu Mi Dilirio”), Ernesto Grenet (“Drume Negrita”), Ernesto Lecuona (“Como Arrullo De Palmas”), and Ignacio Pineiro (“Echale Salsita”) are all accounted for in this musical portrait. As Paquito states in the liner notes, PORTRAITS OF CUBA is a jazz tribute to the Cuban tradition. Franzetti’s arrangements utilize the wind section of this big band setup as part of the percussion section in the form of counterpoint. The project, which, by the way, was recorded in St. Peter’s Church in NYC in February of this year, really works. The people at Chesky did a great job capturing the acoustics of the church on tape. D’Rivera and Franzetti, two musical giants, some of the best Cuban melodies performed by a cadre of well versed musicians, what more could you possibly ask for? Nothing. Get it, sit back, listen, and enjoy!
PORTRAITS OF CUBA Chesky JD145
Cuban Jazz has always found its voice in a big band. Most recently it roared sublimely in Mario Bauza’s last recordings and, convulsed with swing, it was heard speaking-in-tongues on Chico O’ Farril’s “Pure Emotion.” Paquito D’ Rivera’s “Portraits of Cuba” is an aural history of the last 100 years in Cuban music. It is a jazz-impressionist view of that history. Carlos Franzetti, arranger and conductor, set the goal of rendering a jazz tribute to Cuban music in the same sense that “Sketches of Spain” is a jazz tribute to Spanish music. To achieve that goal Franzetti wrote charts that have this band blowin’ like a trained force of nature: alternating gale fury with a gentle tropical breeze.
The evolution of the bolero cubano is traced from its roots in the habanera or danza cubana on “Tu,” through the contributions of such masters of the genre as Ernesto Lecuona on “Como Arrullo de Palmas,” Rene Touzet on “No Te Importe Saber,” and Cesar Portillo De La Luz on “Tu Mi Delirio.” On original compositions such as Franzetti’s “Mariana” and Paquito’s “Song To My Son” the contemporary and eternal viability of this romantic spirit is affirmed. Enduring Cuban values are revealed in classics like the cancion de cuna (lullaby) “Drume Negrita,” Ignacio Pineiro’s “Echale Salsita,” “La Bella Cubana,” and amazingly on “The Peanut Vendor” (El Manisero), which had languished in caricature until now. “I Love Lucy” effuses with the energy that was Desi. The title track is the opening movement for “Aires Tropicales,” an extended piece written by Paquito for the Aspen Wind Quintet. It serves as both a summary of the subject and as a compass for future directions.
There are goals that take a lifetime to fulfill, projects that assimilate experience and bring you full circle - this is one of them. As a child in Cuba, Paquito heard recordings of Benny Goodman and conceived the dream of being a jazz musician in New York. By fulfilling that dream he also came to know Cuban music from inside and out. “Portraits of Cuba” recapitulates all the memories and nostalgia of both man and country and offers it to the listener. Somewhere Benny Goodman is wearing a smile a cloud wide.
DARK LATIN GROOVE
Sir George/Sony 81694
Now, let’s see if I get this straight. First there was the danza, which gave way to the danzón, from which we get the charanga, the Cuban son, the mambo, and the chachacha. In between the Cuban son and the chachacha, there was the descarga. Then came the Cuban embargo, which gave rise to the boogaloo and jala-jala era in New York City. As a result of these dynamics, we get “salsa” in the U.S.A. and “songo” in Cuba. Well, get ready for something that’s been brewing for a while. Salsa meets hip hop. That’s right! I’m talking about DLG, Huey Dunbar and James De Jesus.
Produced by Sergio George for his Sir George label debut, this release swings. More importantly, it has brought a new audience along with a fresh sound. Our kid brothers and little sisters are now stepping to a sound that has been traditionally neglected by our youth. Hey, don’t despair, you’ll also enjoy it.
DLG is already enjoying hit status with the songs “No Morira (No Matter What),” “Si Tu No Estas,” “Muevete,” and “Triste Y Solo.” The music is danceable with many catchy hooks. Like I said, it swings! Check them out, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll hear.