El Condado De La Salsa y Latin Jazz - June 2020

The COVID 19 Issue By Nelson Rodriguez

Covid 19 may have changed the way we do business at this time and how we live day by day but it has not stopped many talented musicians from recording, producing and giving us excellent music.

Grammy award winning Spanish Harlem Orchestra who you always see adding a Latin Jazz jam at a live performance or in their recordings have entered the Latin Jazz realm with their latest sensational CD, “The Latin Jazz Project”. After seventeen years of overwhelming audiences worldwide they now take the Jazz world by surprise with what will be one of the year’s Top 10 Latin Jazz releases of 2020. It makes sense and was well overdue considering the orchestra has talented jazzers in Mitch Frohman, Doug Beavers, Luisito Quintero, Jonathan Powell and Oscar Hernandez who has two solo projects in the last few years that have both ended on Top 10 lists worldwide. Oscar Hernandez is one of the genres brightest stars and wrote many of the new tracks on this CD.

The lead single, “Latin Perspective”, was a good way for the band to introduce us all to this new project with the guests being vibraphonist Joe Locke and one of the top trombonists in all of music Jimmy Bosch.

The scorching track, “Las Palmas”, was written and arranged by trumpeter Angel Fernandez and features guest Tom Harrel on trumpet improvising along with conguero George Delgado and Oscar Hernandez.

“Acid Rain” features another guest, saxophonist Bob Franceschini along with trumpeter Jonathan Powell and will be on many hit parades in 2020 & 2021.

Thelonious Monk’s Hall of Fame composition “Round Midnight” gets the SHO treatment again with superb performances by Powell and Hernandez. The same can be said about “Fort Apache” with Hernandez and guest Michael Rodriguez doing the honors.

“Bobo”, written by the great Marty Sheller. features gust saxophonist Bob Mintzer, who has recorded Latin Jazz in the past, and is joined here by timbalero Lusito Quintero.

Guest Kurt Elling’s voice shines on “Invitation” with Hernandez and guest saxophonist Miguel Zenon soloing and the band closes with the ‘barn bunner’ “Descarga De Jazz” that showcases Beavers, Powell, Manuel ‘Maneco’ Ruiz, Hernandez, and the chorus of Carlos Cascante, Marco Bermudez and Jeremy Bosch. Bermudez and Bosch have their own Salsa projects as the band continues to expand musically and still the #1 band in the mind of many fans, DJ.s and critics.

Tony Succar has been a hot name in both the Salsa and Latin Jazz fields and has had multiple CD’s in the last few years. He just released “Mestizo” in union with reedman Eric Chacon and with reedman Pablo Gil just released “Raices Jazz Orchestra”.

This is a big band format directed by Pablo Gil with over 50 musicians from Cuba, Colombia, New York, Colombia, Puerto Rico Venezuela and Peru. Many of the musicians are bandleaders of their own bands and projects such as Cesar Orozco, Jose Tobon, Eric Chacon, Silvanos Monasterios, Tito Manrique, Bobby Allende & Marc Quiñones.

Timbalero Tony Succar is coming off a Salsa Grammy and with this release, with Pablo Gil, explores the fusion of Jazz and Latin American rhythms that makes this CD an enjoyable one that will garner many fans. Succar is a huge fan of big bands and the music of Tito Puente and I respect his love for Salsa and Latin Jazz equally. Gil shares the same passion for Latin Jazz and together they make a great combination.

Raices Jazz Orchestra is based in south Florida and we expect to see more of them throughout the year. All Latin Jazz fans will enjoy this awesome CD whose lead single “Eye of The Hurricane” (Herbie Hancock) has already captured the Jazz world with performances by Succar and horn section.

“Raices Jam” lets Cesar Orzoco, who leads his own band Kamarata Jazz, shine on piano and the percussion duo of Tony Succar and Bobby Allende.

I love the bands use of the various folkloric rhythms they incorporate on the tracks “Feste-Fuego”, “Invocations, “Imprevisto” and “Midnight In Spain”.

Cuban bassist Yorgis Goiricelaya has been making a huge name for himself that began as a youth in Costa Rica where he formed Conjunto Chocolate in 2000 and by 2004 goes solo for his 2005 release “Abriendo Caminos”. In Miami, in 2005, he began his rise in the music industry but has really topped himself with his new release, “360 South”.

This great production has a Hall of Fame line-up that includes Issac Delgado, Oscar D ’Leon, Julio Padron, Tony Succar, Orlando ‘Maraca; Valle (who has a solo project), Paquito D’Rivera, Marc Quiñones, Feliciano Arango, Pedrito Martinez, Gonzalo Rubalcaba (that just released Live at The Blue Note Tokyo with Aymee Nuviola).

La Merca comes to us from Torino, Italy and Munich, Germany where Salsa has been along the lines of Salsa Romantica and Bachatas with a Reggaeton flavor. La Merca formed in 2019 is led by pianist/composer/producer Massimo Bellaroba and the CD, “Bendita Soledad”, features the vocal talents of a new name Jerard Montana.

La Merca has a special vibe that will make them stand out as a new band. The tracks “Otra Noche”, “Hechicera”, ”Fiesta En La Calle”, and “Timba Con Trampa” will pave a good road in Europe , the US and Latin America.

LA’s Yamila (Guerra) and Yalil Guerra Orchestra strike gold again with her latest, “Havana Nights’, that bring a Cuban feel with flavors from Colombia, Venezuela, the orient, and the Blues. Just listen to Yamila on “Cha Cha Blues” (with flutist Oriente Lopez), “El Peor De Mis Temores”, “Guarapo” (hip hop meets Venezuela), “Estampas De Mi Barrio”, “Rie y Llora” (a Celia Cruz staple) and Yali’s arrangement of the last mega hit Celia Cruz recorded for RMM Records “La Vida Es Un Carnaval”. Lead single “123 Mambo” is a homage to Cachao and Perez Prado. This could end up being a Grammy contender for Yamila and Yalil Guerra.

There are also great recordings by Ricardo Leyva & Sur Caribe, La Ciencia de Juancho Valencia, Nestor Pacheco, Son Real Orchestra, La 33, Alfredo De La Fe doing Latin Jazz, Solycuba, Boricuba Son, Omara Portuondo, Daniel Amat Big Band, Izis ‘La Enfermera De La Salsa’, Pablo Timba, Carlos Nevarez, Tito Salsa Roldan, Chie Suzuki Trio, Orquesta Failde, pianist Gabriel Chakarji, Julito Alvardo showcasing “New Faces”, Maia and Emmanuel Chopis Sexteto. Add this to all the great productions that have come out since January and at the halfway mark of this year, where three months were stolen because of this pandemic, we have a great crop of CD releases because of artists who refuse to be set back.