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Kiki Valera - Vivencias en clave cubana - New Cuban Son album - Traditional Cuban Music

SpanishEnglishCuba Now Danzón - (Colibrí) 2015

CD/DVD Review: Cuba Now Danzón by Alejandro Falcón (Colibrí 2014)
Review by Bill Tilford, all rights reserved

Among many other things, Cuba Now Danzón is an arranger's dream.  Alejandro Falcón has previously distinguished himself in Cuba's modern Jazz spectrum (along with some powerful Cuban Funk in his previous release, Claroscuro), and in this album he turns to the mission of updating the Danzón, one of Cuba's most important traditional forms and one that you more normally associate with orchestras than with Big Band Jazz.  However, The opening track, El bombin de Barreto,  makes excellent use of Joaquín Betancourt's corps of rising young musicians along with a cameo appearance by Alexander Abreu with a trumpet solo.  But it is the big band brass arrangement - deep, exciting, and putting all of the tools to work - that tells you in the very beginning that this album is something different.  The second track, Now danzón, is with a smaller combo and fuses Danzón with some straight ahead Jazz.   La trompeta magica  brings in the strings with Jazz violinist William Roblejo and a wonderful dialogue between flautist Evelyn Suarez and trumpeter Julio Padrón.  Here, too, the music twists and turns effortlessly between Danzón and North American Jazz. Monserrate brings the brass and strings together and ultimately evolves into an uptempo dance number.   The closing track, DJ Dance Song, it a bit of electronica based in the Danzón. 

There are some traditional renditions of the form in the album:    Esas no son cubanas  is a fairly traditional arrangment of the piece (except for the brass, which is again distinctive), and it brings in Mayito Rivera for the  lead vocal.  Canción para Romeu and Para danzonear are the songs that probably most resembles what established listeners expect from Danzón - in Canción, there is a very lush arrangement using the Orquesta Sinfónica del ISA (the Instituto Superior de Arte). Rompiendo la rútina features Jazz clarinetist/saxophonist Ernesto Camilo Vega on clarinet and vocalist Luna Manzanares.  Mr. Falcón slips in a modern touch with a Fender Rhodes in lieu of a regular piano,   Mojito Criollo begins as a straightforward piece in trio, and you can hear some hints of the similarities between Danzón and Ragtime here.  La Mora is a duet with Alejandro on piano and Pablo Milanés on vocals.   La Mora, incidentally, is an Eliseo Grenet composition first recorded in the early 1900s. 

Cuba now danzón won Cubadisco 2015 awards in Instrumental Music and Recording (a technical category).  Here is one of the more traditional arrangements, with Mayito Rivera:  

Songs and personnel: The credits are a lot more intricate than we find in most recordings, so we are going to list the artists by track:

1. El bombín de Barreto (Don José Urfé)

Piano: Alejandro Falcón
Joven jazz band de Joaquín Betancourt 
Guitarra eléctrica: Héctor Quintana 
Bajo: Carlos Ríos 
Tumbadora y güiro: Edgar Martínez
Drums y Timbal: Keisel Jiménez
Flauta: Evelyn Suárez
Clarinetes: Emir Santa Cruz 
Saxo alto: Michel Herrera 
Saxo tenor: Yuniet Lombida 
Trompeta: Leider Chapottín 1 y 2 
Trombón: Yoandri Argudín 1 y 2 
Vibráfono: Lenon Ruíz 
Invitado Alexander Abreu, solo de trompeta  

2. Now danzón (Alejandro Falcón)

Piano: Alejandro Falcón
Bajo: Carlos Ríos 
Drums: Keisel Jiménez
Tumbadora: Guillermo del Toro 

3. La trompeta mágica  (Alejandro Falcón)

Piano: Alejandro Falcón 
Contrabajo: David Faya
Tumbadora y güiro: Guillermo del Toro
Drums y timbal: Keisel Jiménez
Violín 1 y 2: William Roblejo
Flauta: Evelyn Suárez 
Invitado Julito Padrón, solo de trompeta  

4. Esas no son cubanas (Ignacio Piñeiro)

Piano: Alejandro Falcón
Bajo: Carlos Ríos 
Timbal: Keisel Jiménez
Tumbadora, campana y güiro:  Guillermo del Toro 
Trompeta 1 y 2: Leider Chapottín 
Trombón 1 y 2: Yoandri Argudín 
Coros: Janniel Rodríguez y  Guillermo del Toro 
Invitado Mayito Rivera, voz  

5. Canción para Romeu (Alejandro Falcón)

Orquesta Sinfónica del ISA adjunta al Lyceum Mozarteum Dirigida por José Antonio Mendez (Pepe) 
Invitado Enrique Lazaga, güiro 

6. Rompiendo la rútina (Aniceto Díaz)

Rhodes: Alejandro Falcón
Contrabajo: David Faya
Drums: Rodney Barreto
Tumbadoras: Edgar Martínez
Timbal: Keisel Jiménez
Coros: Janniel Rodríguez, Luna Manzanares, Guillermo del Toro
Invitados: Luna Manzanares, voz, Ernesto Camilo Vega, solo de clarinete

7. Mojito Criollo  (Frank Emilio Flynn)

Piano: Alejandro Falcón
Bajo: Carlos Ríos
Güiro: Guillermo del Toro

8. La Mora (Eliseo Grent):

Piano: Alejandro Falcón
Invitado:Pablo Milanés, voz

9. Para danzonear  (Alejandro Falcón)

Piano: Alejandro Falcón
Timbal: Keisel Jiménez
Violín 1: Jenny Peña
Violín 2: Camila Martell
Viola: Lisbet Sevila
Violoncello: Maylín Sevila
Invitado: William Roblejo, solo de violín

10: Monserrate (Alejandro Falcón)

Piano: Alejandro Falcón
Violín 1 y 2: William Roblejo
Trompeta 1 y 2: Leider Chapottín
Trombón 1 y 2: Yoandri Argudín
Contrabajo: David Faya
Tumbadora y güiro: Guillermo del Toro
Percusión: Yansiel Castro
Percusión: Dagoberto Arbeláez
Invitados: Ethiel Failde, flauta, Michel Herrera,solo de saxo alto

11; DJ Dance Song  (Alejandro Falcón) 

Keyboards: Alejandro Falcón
Timbal: Keisel Jiménez
DJ Omi
Voz: Luna Manzanares

Musical Direction, Arrangements Alejandro Falcón
Musical Production: Alejandro Falcón & Joaquin Betancourt
Executive Production, DVD Concept:  Mayra Torralba
Recording, Mixing and Mastering:  Maykel Bárzagas
DVD General Direction:  René Arencibia

Recorded in Estudios Abdala, Mastered in Estudio MB

Bill Tilford - Saturday, 13 June 2015, 10:32 PM