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Interviews & Reviews - CD Review - This Is The Life

CD Review - THIS IS THE LIFE by GRUPO CHA CHA
Music by Lise, 2012

Review by Bill Tilford, All rights reserved

This Is The Life  is the second CD by Chicago-based Grupo Cha Cha,  an eclectic group that plays Latin Jazz as well as Salsa and Brasilian dance music.  The band was named after the nickname of one of the original (and since-departed) co-leaders of the group, which is now led by Lise Gilly. The project was locally recorded in Chicago and Evanston and features many of the city's best Latin jazz musicians.  The songs are a combination of covers and originals.

The opening  track,  Peruchin, is a Mambo Jazz number that features the percussion towards the end of the piece. Bedroom Eyes is  a 60s/70s-style Latin Soul - Cha Cha  number with English and Spanish lyrics. The title track, This Is The Life,  is a  Samba jazz composition by Lise, and it features some of the highlights of the recording with nice solos by Victor Garcia (trumpet), Adrian Ruiz (keyboards) and Lise (flute).  Que Te Pedi  opens as  a beautiful, old-school bolero and later segues into a cha cha. Vamos a la Playa is the album's Salsa track and features some beautiful vocal harmonies. Danzon Para Pedro, another original, is a danzón dedicated to Tchaikovsky and is another of the recording's highlights with some excellent trumpet and flute work in the later movements. Haresah is a laid-back 6/8 Jazz piece that is one of our favorite tracks on the recording. Minorian features  cameo appearances by Phillipe Vieux on clarinet and Rob Block (who also wrote the piece) on guitar.  Pa' Gozar  is an Afrocuban descarga by Aristides Soto  that evokes the Cuban Jam Session recordings from decades ago with Walfredo de los Reyes, Fajardo, Cachao etc. The closing track, Elegua, begins with a standard Afrocuban percussion/vocal pattern and segues into an uptempo merengue.  

Overall, when this recording settles into a groove, it does it really well, and a lot of the solo work is beautiful as are the solos and harmonies in the vocal tracks.  It's laid-back without becoming boring, and I would especially recommend it to fans of groups like Bongo Logic or some of Art Webb's other projects as well as people who enjoy Mongo's or Poncho Sanchez's more eclectic, laid-back and less conga-focused projects (there is no Mongo or Poncho equivalent here, but the rhythm section still puts out in spite of that). I would also call this a must-buy for flautists and listeners who are really into flutes in this music (such as fans of charangas for example), because it's a great example of how to use that instrument effectively  in front of this type of ensemble.  

For details about purchasing the CD and more information about the band, see its website, http://grupochacha.com

Personnel

Role - InstrumentName
Flute, Sax, Director Lise Gilly
Piano Adrian Ruiz, Darwin Noguera
Percussion Alberto Arroyo, Janet Cramer
Trumpet Victor Garcia
Drums Jean Leroy
Lead Vocals Nythia Martinez, Diana Mosquera
Bass Brett Benteler
Guest Clarinet Phillipe Vieux
Guest Guitar Rob Block
 

 

 

Sunday, 11 August 2013, 04:33 PM