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SpanishEnglishSonajero - (EGREM) released 2015

CD Review: Sonajero by César López y Habana Ensemble (EGREM 2015)
Review by Bill Tlford, all rights reserved

César López, an alumnus of a later vintage of  Irakere, has recorded everal interesting albums in recent years and has also collaborated with classical artists in addition to his Jazz projects.  This new release, Sonajero, is a deep Jazz album that deserves as much attention as Irakere's work has received even though this is a smaller combo.    Nearly all of the songs in this album are original compositions, the performances are virtuosic, and there is a nice variety of styles. Cherokee (the only song not composed by López or Martiní)  is done as a Cubop arrangement that proves that in an alternate timeline, Mr. López could have been a top-level Bebop saxophonist. Cachao's Family puts him on flute with a danzon-type arrangement that pays tribute to el gran Cachao.  Stevie Blues is a Cuban Jazz Rock blend that features Emilio Martiní's guitar.  Due tu mano is a beautiful bolero. Caprichito uses a dash of electronica a la Weather Report but with more intricate solos; Un 5 de noviembre also has a bit of a Weather Report kind of vibe.  Se vende, Pata de Elefante and Vivo en Cuba  are in the style of Cuban Jazz that would especially appeal to Irakere fans. 

This album is also a good example of the continuing diversification of the recording industry in Cuba. Although EGREM is the label, it was recorded in Estudios Abdala and mixed and mastered in SOUNID. 

This video is not a song from the album, but it gives you a glimpse of the dexterity of the group:


1. Cherokee (Ray Noble)
2. Cachao's Family (César López)
3. Stevie Blues (César López)
4. De tu mano (César López)
5. Caprichito (César López)
6. UIn 5 de noviembre (César López)
7. Se vende (Emilio Martiní)
8. Pata de elefante (César López)
9, Vivo en Cuba (César López)

Personnel in Sonajero

Role - InstrumentName
Director, Alto Sax, Soprano Sax, Flute César López
Guitars Emilio Martiní
Bass José Hermida
Drums Ruly Herrera (also timbal 2)
Piano Jorge Luis Lagarza (1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9); Miguel Ángel de Armas Jr. (2, 4, 8)
Percussion Otto Santana
Vocals Hideo López Ishii (7)
Coros Evaristo Denis (7, 9); Alfred Thompson (7); Milena Labatista (9)
Musical Production César López
Recording, Mixing and Mastering  Orestes Aguila (SOUNID)
Recording Assistants Milena Labatista, Johandri Lazano, Susana Hernández
Recorded at  Estudios Abdala
Mixed & Mastered at  Estudios SOUNID
Bill Tilford - Tuesday, 02 February 2016, 02:54 PM