Reviews

Type Artist Product Date Author
CD Ruy López-Nussa Laadademiasmall Ruy López-Nussa presenta La Academia -(Colibrí) 2015

This is not a revival of the music of the original Grupo Afrocuba, but fans of that group should go to the ends of the earth if necessary to find this music anyway. In many ways the sound is similar (not a big surprise since some of the same musicians are involved) , but La Academia is a step forward with deeper Afrocuban percussion fused with modern Cuban Jazz, Funk, Reggae and other music. The project is also designed to be educational for young people about percussion and rhythm in Cuban music. You probably can't buy this yet, but keep your eyes peeled. When this hits, it will turn heads. That shouldn't be too long since it was just nominated for a Cubadisco in the Jazz Cubano category.

04/19/2015 Bill Tilford
CD José Luís Cortés & NG La Banda Enlacalleuvmsmall En la calle una vez más - (Bis Music)- Released 2014

A hard-hitting new release by NG La Banda. Excellent arrangements, funny when it wants to be, Los Metales del Terror are in action, some solid Timba with a dash of Cuban Jazz, Conga/Merengue, Rumba and Bachata in the album.

04/13/2015 Bill Tilford
CD Elito Revé y su Charangón La_aplanadora_de_cubasmall La Aplanadora de Cuba - (Bis Music) Released 2014

Another exciting Changüi released by Revé. An aplanadora is a steamroller, and this is one, in a good way, for good dancers. Drink plenty of fluids before starting to listen to this.

04/13/2015 Bill Tilford
CD Moncada Enelmismolugalarger En el mismo lugar - (Colibrí) - Released 2012

This eclectic album, like the body of Moncada's work, incorporates a wide array of the different genres that have contributed to the evolution of Nueva Trova. Moncada, a multiple award winner in Cuba, is receiving an increased amount of attention in the United States after its recent appearance on Conan and an article in Rolling Stone. This review takes you a little deeper into their music.

04/13/2015 Bill Tilford
CD Julio Valdés Ifeelgoodsmall I Feel Good (Independent) - Released 2014

A new and eclectic independent recording by Julio Valdés, one of Cuba's most interesting Jazz and Fusion violinists. This will especially appeal to fans of groups like Grupo Afrocuba and Weather Report.

03/29/2015 Bill Tilford
CD Omar Sosa Omarsosailesmall ilé (Otá Records) Released March 10, 2015

ilé brings Omar Sosa closer to his Afro Cuban roots including guest appearances by Pedrito Martínez, Yosvany Terry and "Don Pancho" Terry, but there is also a heady mix of Flamenco elements, Jazz and West African ingredients.

03/10/2015 Bill Tilford
CD Septeto Santiaguero & José Alberto El Canario Noquierosmall No Quíero Llanto -Tributo a Los Compadres

An exciting 2-CD release by Septeto Santiaguero, José Alberto "El Canario" and an impressive supporting cast - practically an extravaganza of Son. The final result is quite distinctive while respecting the traditions and remaining authentic.
WINNER OF THE CUBADISCO 2015 Award for Traditional Son.

02/04/2015 Bill Tilford
CD Los Van Van Fantasiasmall La Fantasia (EGREM) Released December 2014

Its founder, Juan Formell, only performs (posthumously) on one track, but a resurgent Los Van Van captures the best of his spirit and comes roaring back in this new release on EGREM that is one of their best albums from any decade.

02/01/2015 Bill Tilford
CD Emilio Frías "El Niño" y La Verdad Caratula-icon Llegó La Verdad - (EGREM) Released September 2014

"Llegó la Verdad", the debut album by Elio Frias "El Niño" y La Verdad has proved their ability to deliver hit after hit and solidified their position as one of the top young bands in Havana.

01/25/2015 Michelle White
CD Arturo O'Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra Offensedrumsmall The Offense of the Drum (Motema) - Released May 2014

If one had to pick one album that captures the diversity of Latin Jazz in a way that will make you want to explore all of it, this would be it. A singular achievement.

12/11/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Eliel Lazo Cubanfunkcoversmall Eliel Lazo & The Cuban Funk Machine (STUNT) - Released December 2014)

Some of the best elements of the Cuban dance music of the 70s return with a vengeance, but with new compositions and fresh blood. The album's title is quite accurate: it is VERY funky, Cuban, and relentless.

12/06/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Daniel Peña Dp_eleven_coversmall Eleven (Big Label Records) Released August 2014

Rising percussionist Daniel Peña's debut solo album, Eleven, a Latin Jazz project, includes cameo appearances from the likes of Tito Puente Jr. Richie Ray and Marlow Rosado along with very well-crafted arrangements and considerable drive.

10/20/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Manuel Valera Ccj_1372_covers_manuel-valera-rgb In Motion (Criss Cross) - Released September 2014

In Motion, the third album by New Cuban Express, continues the forward momentum of NCX with the addition of a trumpet to half of the songs, a more acoustic feel, and all of the excitement of the first two recordings.

09/26/2014 Bill TIlford
Concert Havana d'Primera Hdpsmall Havana d'Primera at Logan Square Auditorium

This is a great band, and it should have been a great show, but the apparent indifference to production values on the part of the presenter led to an epic battle between the band and a hostile acoustic setting and sound system. The band fought bravely to the very end, but only moments of clear music emerged from the muddled audio, and were it not for the fact that the audience was composed almost completely of hard core fans who were happy to even see their faces, the evening could easily have been a disaster.

08/09/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Frank Emilio Frankemiliosmall Concierto de Frank Emilio -(EGREM)-

This excellent 1978 live concert was nominated for a Cubadisco in 2014 in the Música de archivo category. Part of EGREM's Cuba En Vivo series

08/06/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Various Artists Tonadas_campesinassmall Tonadas Campesinas - (Colibrí) - Released 2013

This imprerssive three-volume set of field recordings of tonadas, a form of campesino music, includes a video documentary and extensive musicological notes. It was awarded the Cubadisco for Folkloric Campesino Music in 2014 and was also nominated in multiple other categories.

08/05/2014 Bill Tilford
CD/DVD Sergio Vitier 908-sergio-vitier-identidadsmall Identidad - (Bis Music) - Released 2012

Identidad was awarded a Cubadisco in the Documentary category in 2014. The CD portion of this CD/DVD combination includes reissues of two fascinating recordings (homenajes and Travesía) by Sergio Vitier, who was one of the key members of GES (Grupo de Experimentacion Sonora del ICAIC) before it disbanded. Indeed, these recordings, while all his own compositions, are reminiscent of some of the best work of that group.

08/05/2014 Bill Tillford
CD Julio Valdés Pentajazzsmall Pentajazz - (Independent Release)

Pentajazz is an intriguing independent release by one of the best Jazz violinists in Cuba today, Julio Valdés Fuentes. It includes a few of the heavy hitters in the current Jazz scene in La Habana.

08/04/2014 Bill Tilford
CD/DVD Michel Herrera Madre_tierra Madre Tierra - (Colibrí) - Released 2013

This extraordinary Jazz recording would be remarkable in any country and represents the best of the youth movement in today's Cuban Jazz. It was nominated for multiple Cubadisco 2014 awards - Jazz, Audiovisual Concert, CD/DVD, Video Clip, Making of, and Liner Notes. It won the Audiovisual Concert category.

08/03/2014 Bill Tilford
CD/DVD César López y Habana Ensemible Cesarlopezlive César López & Habana Ensemble Live (Bis Music) - Released 2013

One of the very best Jazz combos in Cuba today in a CD/DVD combination package of a live concert in Havana in 2012. The music, audio and video are all superb. This was nominated for a Cubadisco in the Jazz Cubano category in 2014 and received a Cubadisco for best Live Recording.

07/31/2014 Bill Tilford
DVD Chuchito Valdes Chuchitovaldes15small Mi Voz (Music Roots Records) - Released 2014

This is a nice video single filmed in Havana featuring Mercedes Cortes Alfaro singing a ballad accompanied by two of her sons, Chuchito Valdes and Roberto Fonseca.

07/03/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Tico's Mambo Drama Ticomambodrama Follow The Rhythm (Music Roots Records) - Released 2014

This recording by Tico's Mambo Drama captures the feel of both the New York Mambo craze and Cachao's early descarga period in the late 50s-early 60s. A nice mix of retro song styles.

07/02/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Marlow Rosado Salsanimal_marlowrosadosmall Salsanimal (Big Label Records) Released July 2014

Salsanimal is GRAMMY-winner Marlow Rosado's newest Salsa album. Once again, there is a distinguished supporting cast (including Mayito Rivera on one track and Larry Harlow & Richie Ray on another). Stands above so much of the industrial Salsa product that is coming out this days.

06/22/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Rolando Morales-Matos Jpeg Rolando Morales-Matos and Forward

Vibraphonist/multi-instrumentalist Rolando Morales-Matos is the embodiment of what people would picture of a consummate professional musician. His eponymous solo effort, featuring his own ensemble Forward, is a top notch Latin jazz album with intriguing compositions/arrangements and fiery improvisations by Matos and his superb roster of musicians.

06/16/2014 Ian Stewart
CD Gerardo Contino Jpeg Somos Latinos

Former NG La Banda vocalist Gerardo Contino brings his band of A-list musicians into the studio to create his first solo album. The result is an explosive Timba paragon with state of the art instrumental work throughout.

06/16/2014 Ian Stewart
CD Los Hermanos Colón Los Hermanos Colón Jpeg Sabor Colón

This 2014 release employs all the tried and true formulas that have made New York salsa great since the beginning, proving once again that one can’t go wrong with concise arrangements and A-list musicians. Each part fits together like a well-designed piece of architecture with every detail accounted for and nothing left out of place.

06/13/2014 Ian Stewart
CD Chuchito Valdés Reflectionschuchitosmall Reflections - (Music Roots Records) - Released 2014

Reflections, a new release by Chuchito Valdés, represents his most mature work to date as a composer and joins the ranks of some of the best recordings that have been emerging during the current Renaissance of Cuban Jazz, although this should be taken seriously as a Jazz recording with or without labels like "Cuban" or "Latin" attached.

06/08/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Descemer Bueno Buenosmall Bueno - (Bis Music) Released 2013

Bueno was one of two winners of the Composers Prize in Cubadisco 2013 and also won the Canción Contemporánea and Videoclip categories. Includes several collaborations with other prominent Cuban artists. This is a popular music album, but several promient Cuban Jazz musicians appear in the roster for the project. .

06/05/2014 Bill Tilford
CD/DVD Various Artists Medicencubacovelarge Me dicen Cuba -(EGREM) Released 2014

You have probably already seen a piece of this due to the Havana D'Primera video clip that is all over the web, but that clip is part of a far larger, more ambitious project with a multitude of artists to be released to the general public in the months to come. This is a sneak preview of that project, which was awarded a Special Prize at Cubadisco 2014.

06/03/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Interactivo Interactivoqulindosmall Que líndo es el amor - (Independent) - Released 2013

Interactivo's latest release puts a heavy emphasis on Funk, R & B and modern Cuban dance music, and it brings the roster of musicians to make it all work. The best of a series of excellent releases by this group, and - a bonus- even those who live in the United States can buy it on-line. Winner of the Fusion category in Cubadisco 2014.

06/03/2014 Bill Tilford
CD/DVD Ernán López-Nussa Sacrilegiolargesmall Sacrilegio - (Colibrí) Released 2014

Winner of 5 Cubadisco Awards (including the Grand Prize) in 2014, Sacrilegio is an extraordinary project by Ernán López-Nussa that may very well be the most ambitious blending of Jazz, Cuban and Classical music ever recorded by any artist to date.

06/01/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Manuel Valera Manuelvalera_selfportrait Self Portrait (Mavo Records) - Released June 2014

Manuel Valera's formidable range of musical influences, his uncanny sense of swing in any meter and the emotional depth of his compositions combine to make Self Portrait full of a sense of wonder that listeners who enjoy any form of advanced music will find irresistible. This is every bit as distinctive among solo piano recordings as the New Cuban Express releases are among ensemble projects. This album brings more of his classical influences to light but still has plenty of Jazz.

05/30/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Chucho Valdés Cantoadios Canto a Dios - (EGREM) - Released 2011

Canto a Dios is as deep as the river (the Mississippi) which inspired some of its compositions, and when the excitement surrounding Chucho's most recent release, Border Free, has subsided a bit, this 2011 release deserves a much closer second look by North America. It is not impossible that it will be one day be considered a masterpiece.

05/12/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Germán Velazco & Jorge Reyes Duetto Duetto - (Bis Music) - Released 2011

This delightful musical conversation between saxophonist Germán Velazco and bassist Jorge Reyes won a Cubadisco award in the Instrumental Music category in 2012. Mandatory listening for bassists and saxophonists, recommended listening for everyone.

05/10/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Ernesto Blanco Abrepuertas Abre todas las puertas - (Bis) - Released 2013

Nominated in the Pop category in Cubadisco 2014, this recording captures many of the styles now appearing regularly on Cuban radio, from Disco to Latin Pop to surf guitar.

05/09/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Augusto Enríquez Tedoyunacancionsmall Te doy una canción - (Colibrí) - Released 2013

This 3-CD set, which includes a short video documentary in one CD, is a Special Prize winner in Cubadisco 2014 and is a collection of Silvio Rodríguez compositions interpreted in various instrumental settings by Augusto Enríquez. More musically diverse than this writer was expecting when he first opened the package, and put together quite well.

05/08/2014 Bill Tilford
CD/DVD Los Hermanos Arango Arangoestrellas Los Hermanos Arango Y Las Estrellas del Folklor - (Bis Music) - Released 2011

This excellent folkloric fusion project won multiple Cubadisco awards in 2012 and is one of the best projects of its kind.

05/08/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Manolito Simonet y su Trabuco Manolito_portada_sin_frenosmall Sin Freno - (Bis Music) Released 2013

Those of you who have been mourning the fact that the 80s and 90s are over can stop now. Sin Freno is a knock-you-flat-on-your-arse Timba recording (with one stray concession to the bachateros) that easily holds its own with anything we old-timers remember from our own versions of the "Golden Age".

05/01/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Paulo FG y su Élite Abrequevoysmall Abre que voy - (EGREM) - Released 2013

Paulo FG returns with a mix of genres including Timba, Salsa and a Bachata and Regueton track, all performed well. Nominated for a Cubadisco in the Música Popular Bailable category.

05/01/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Adalberto Alvarez y Su Son Aarerspetosmall Respeto pa los mayores - (Bis Music) Released 2013

The style may be retro, and the lyrics may invoke tradition, but there's nothing old about the energy level. This is Adalberto's hardest-hitting album in decades. Take the energy from Son 14, augment the brass section, crank things up a couple of notches, and you're headed in the right direction.

04/30/2014 Bill Tilford