on 16 February 2014
Last November, 2013, I saw Chucho Valdes and the Afro Cuban Messengers In Cartagena, Spain, That night they opened the concert with the first track of this CD "Congadanza"; a fast, exilarating Latin piece that spotlights Chucho`s prodigious technique.
The CD is mainly a piano trio with two additional percussionist; trumpet and tenor sax are heard on only three or four tracks. The second track on the CD is "Caridad Amaro", a slower melodic Latin piece which, after the restatement of the melody, leads into an extended quote from Rachmaninov`s Second Piano Concerto.
"Bebo" is dedicated to Chucho`s father Bebo Valdes and is a more conventional Latin Jazz quintet piece that features solos from the trumpet of Reinaldo Mellan Alvarez and the tenor sax of Branford Marsalis. The group didn`t have a tenor sax at the concert in Cartagena.
"Afro-Comanche" reflects the story of Comanche Indians who were deported to Cuba in the 19th.century; it combines Indian melody with afro Cuban danzon rhythms and which, at times, sounds a little like McCoy Tyner. It features Gaston Joya on bass and Dreiser Durruthy Bombale playing batas drums and singing what, to me, sounds like what could be a Comanche incantation.
"Pilar", a slow "Blues in Green" tune, is dedicated to Chucho` mother. After a brief piano statement there is a long melodic arco bass solo from Gaston Joya which moves into a conventional pizzicato jazz solo. Chucho plays a tinkling melodic solo and concludes with a little bit of Bach.
"Santa Cruz" has a flamenco melody over a fast rumba rhythm. It is all chucho with the three percussionists soloing together at the conclusion.
This is a very entertaining CD, full of melody, rhythm, and outstanding musicianship.
on 25 May 2013
I was at Ronnie Scott's (in April 2013) when Chucho and the Afro-Cuban Messengers were releasing this clever album in the UK. Having listened to CHUCHO'S STEPS countless times, this album is indeed a fitting follow up which builds on the remains of the band's first work (just listen to the PEACE PIECE inspired PILAR and contrast it to DANZON...)
If you can catch these guys live in your neighborhood, please do not hesitate. If you can't, at least you will have this album (and their first one) as a consolation.