Reviews

Type Artist Product Date Author
CD Arturo O'Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra Cubaconvcoversmall Cuba The Conversation Continues -(Motema) released 2015

An historic recording in a very literal sense - recorded in Havana with several prominent Cuban guest artists, and the scope of the music ranges from the days of Gillespie and Pozo to the sounds of today (and perhaps even a taste of tomorrow). Currently a nominee for a GRAMMY for Best Large Jazz Ensemble and Best Instrumental Composition. If Jazz is part of your diet, this should already be on your shelf by now.

01/04/2016 Bill Tilford
CD Daymé Arocena Cubafoniatimbasmall Cubafonía - (Brownswood Recordings) Released March 2017

ENGLISH: Cubafonía is Dayme Arocena's third full album in her own name. Accompanied by several members of Cuba's young Jazz elite, it also has a healthy mix of Rumba, Mambo, Changüi, Jazz and Funk There is a chemistry throughout this album that wasn't as consistently present at the same level in her earlier projects, and Çubafonía could prove to be her breakout album.
ESPAÑOL: Cubafonía es el tercer álbum de Daymé Arocena en su propio nombre. Acompañada por varios miembros de la joven élite de Jazz de Cuba, tiene también una mezcla saludable de Rumba, Mambo, Changüi, Jazz y Funk. Hay una química a lo largo de este álbum que no era presente tan consistemente en el mismo nivel en sus proyectos anteriores, y Cubafonía podría resultar ser el álbum que atrae la mayor atención.

06/11/2017 Bill Tilford
CD Ivan Acosta y su Grupo De Cuba Somos Ivanacostadecubasomossmall Cubaniando

A not-yet-released recording by one of Santiago de Cuba's best Jazz bands. Ivan Acosta's Grupo de Cuba Somos is one of the mainstays of the small but vibrant Jazz scene in Santiago. Review includes photos and links to an interview.

03/17/2016 Bill Tilford
CD Hector Quintana Dactilarsmall Dactilar - (Cinquillo/Colibrí) 2015

The debut album by Cuban Jazz guitarist Hector Quintana, who is equally at home with Cuban and North American Jazz styles. Nominated for a Cubadisco 2015 in the Jazz category. Special bonuses are his pianists Jorge Aragon and Alejandro Falcon, and his drummer, Yissy Garcia, whom you are guaranteed to get to know a lot better in the future.

04/10/2016 Bill Tilford
DVD Ernesto Vega & Harold López-Nussa Portada_dvd_duosmall Dúo- (Colibrí) Released 2014

Dúo is a wonderful live performance film of a concert in 2012 by Ernesto Vega and Harold López-Nussa. The music and the productions values were both superb, and it is a special accomplishment to perform this well as a Jazz duet. Great chemistry here. Dúo was nominated for Cubadisco 2015 awards for Audiovisual Concert and Live Recording.

06/14/2015 Bill Tilford
CD Nabori Naborismall De Nuevo En El Solar - (Salsaneo Records) Released 2013.09.19

(Reviewed for our "Nuestros Primos Musicales" section). This is the second CD by Nabori, a rising "Salsa Brava" band in the Midwestern US. Many of its members are "on-call" when touring acts visit the region and need musicians.

08/25/2013 Bill Tilford
CD Gema Corredera Derremando_luzsmall Derramando Luz (GC Music LLC) Released 2013.01.11

This beautiful and unique album is a rarity: a modern Filin recording released in the United States. It features stellar vocalist Gema Corredera with many of New York's Cuban Jazz elite. It was nominated for a Cubadisco award (Contemporary Song) in 2013.

04/01/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Buena Fe Dial-timbassmall Dial - (Blue Night Entertainment) Released 2013.02.18

"Dial", Buena Fe’s eighth studio CD, is a tribute to the 90th anniversary of Cuban Radio, which took place in 2012. It is also is an experimental project that goes in search of fresh sounds, marking a new phase in the band’s artistic development.

04/02/2013 Michelle White
CD Calle Real Cr Dime Qué - (Calle Real Productions) Released 2015.12.21

"¿¡Dime Qué?!" has a rich instrumental texture: tres, piano, subtle synthesizer, elecric guitar, electric and acoustic bass and the horns, all woven together to create an irresistible dance album.

12/22/2015 Michelle White
CD William Roblejo William_roblejo Dreaming (Colibrí) Released 2012

This swinging album by William Roblejo is relatively unique for Cuba - a Jazz violin soloist carrying the entire recording with a variety of stylistic influences. Deservedly nominated in three categories in Cubadisco 2013.

04/05/2014 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 Omar Sosa Covereggunwebsmall Eggun - (OTA Records) Released 2013.02.01

An ingenious Afro-Cuban tribute to, but NOT a cover of, Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. Miles was here, but this recording is very much Omar's.

03/02/2013 Bill Tilford
CD Harold López-Nussa Nussa3small El País de las Maravillas - (World Village) Released 2011

Harold López-Nussa may not be as famous as uncle Érnan yet, but if he keeps putting out recordings like his one, that will change in time.

03/11/2011 Bill Tilford
CD Manolín, El Médico de la Salsa Puente_cover El Puente - (Ciocan Music) - Released 2002

Given the amount of water that's passed under "the bridge" for the amusingly enigmatic character known as "El Médico de la Salsa", it's no wonder that the historic release of "El puente" has rekindled the many controversies swirling around the current state of music and politics in Cuba and the United States. Fortunately, "El puente" also has the power to make us forget such annoyances and remember why we're drawn to this music in this first place. This live double CD captures the torrid adrenaline rush of the live Timba experience as no commercial recording ever has...

09/28/2002 Kevin Moore
CD Soneros All Stars Bacalao-sm El Que Corta El Bacalao (Soneros Records) Released 25 January 2017

With "El Que Corta El Bacalao" Yanesito has set the bar high, releasing what will be one of the best albums of for Timba 2017.

01/22/2017 Michelle White
CD Juan Carlos Marín Trombondesantaamalia El Trombón de Santa Amalia - (Cinquillo/Colibri) Released 2012

This 2013 nominee for a Cubadisco award in the Jazz Cubano category showcases Juan Carlos Marín, who may now be Cuba's best Jazz trombonist, along with an excellent ensemble performing some modern Jazz and Jazz Fusion material. It is also yet another entry in Colibri's "The Young Jazz Spirit" series, which so far has consistently proven to be excellent.

04/02/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Harold López-Nussa Elviajesmall El Viaje - (Mack Avenue) Released 2016

The splendid new album by Harold López-Nussa is an intense blend of Afro Cuban, African and Jazz ingredients.

10/25/2016 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 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 JG Jgcovelarger Empezar de cero - (EGREM) -Released 2011

This is the well-done debut Timba recording by a former member of Gente de Zona and includes some heavyweights like Alexander Abreu and Amaury Pérez in the brass section.

04/22/2014 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 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 Alberto Lescay & FORMAS Escapesmall Escape (EGREM 2018) Released June 1, 2018

ENGLISH: Escape is the debut album of Alberto Lescay & FORMAS, a group that represents the best of the best of the NuJazz movement in Cuba. If you have been worried about the future of music in Cuba, this album is an instant cure.
ESPAÑOL: Escape es el álbum debut de Alberto Lescay & FORMAS, un grupo que representa lo mejor de lo mejor del movimiento NuJazz en Cuba. Si estuviera preocupado por el futuro de la música en Cuba, este álbum sería una cura instantánea.

06/03/2018 Bill Tilford
CD/DVD Estado de ánimo Estadodeanimosmall Estado de ánimo - (Cinquillo/Colibrí) Released 2014

This is like finding buried treasure - the best of an extraordinary Jazz/Fusion concert from the 1990s comes back to life. If you live outside of Cuba, you may not know about Estado de ánimo, but its members - Ruy López-Nussa, Roberto Carcassés, Elmer Ferrer and Descemer Bueno - made some of the best Cuban music of the decade together. Nominated for Cubadisco 2015 awards in Jazz and Musical Documentary.

07/06/2015 Bill Tilford
CD Various Artists Eterno-formell-varios-interpretes Eterno Formell - (Bis Music) Released 2014

Eterno Formell, which won an Extraordinary Prize in Cubadisco 2015, is a very imaginative reworking of several classic Juan Formell compositions. Like Juan's personal musical experiments in life, some of these new versions stand out more than others, but the best of this project shows pure genius on the part of the arrangers, and the artists are superb.

06/24/2015 Bill Tilford
CD Manuel Valera Mv_ncx_expectativassmall Expectativas - (Mavo Records) Released 2013.09.03

This is the second album by Manuel Valera's New Cuban Express (the first was nominated for a GRAMMY in the Latin Jazz category and a Cubadisco in the Jazz Cubano category), and it is every bit as powerful and moving as the first. It has currently been nominated for a Cubadisco (Jazz Cubano)

08/25/2013 Bill Tilford
CD Gema Corredera Coverfeelingmartasmall Feeling Marta - (GC Music LLC) - Released 2015.10.05

Gema Corredera's second solo project is a powerful tribute to Marta Valdés.

09/13/2015 Bill Tilford
CD Pedro Luis Ferrer Pedroluisferrer_albumcovesmallr Final (Escondida Music) Released 2014.03.25

Final almost certainly is not Pedro Luis Ferrer's final album, but it is a great album to put on during a quiet weekend morning with a loved one.

04/01/2014 Bill Tilford
CD Aymee Nuviola Firstclasssmall First Class to Havana - (Worldwide Entertainment) Released 2014

Nominated for a Latin GRAMMY (Salsa), a GRAMMY (Best Tropical Latin) and a Cubadisco (Música Popular Bailable - Maestros), this is an extremely solid dance album, and if that was its mission, then "mission accomplished". One does look at the guest artists and wonder what might have been...

07/05/2015 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 Timbalive Gasolinacoversmall Gasolina de Avion - (Latin Power Enterprises) Released 2015

Gasolina de Avion is a rousing new release from Timbalive that includes several guest appearances including Descemer Bueno, Robertón, Los 4, Maykel Fonts and others.

02/07/2016 Bill Tilford
CD Magic Sax Quartet Magicsaxcoversmall Gotas de Sabor - (Termidor) Released July 2013

Magic Sax is Santiago de Cuba's answer to Habana Sax, and they are every bit as good. This was nominated for a Cubadisco (Instrumental Music) in 2014.

01/28/2016 Bill Tilford
CD Chuchito Valdés Grandpianolivethumb Grand Piano Live - (Music Roots Records) 2013.05.01

This recording, which has been nominated in the Latin Jazz category for the 14th Annual GRAMMY Awards, is the result of a live solo performance of Chuchito at the Steinway at the 2012 Indy Jazz Fest in September 2012.

10/16/2013 Bill Tilford
CD Eliades Ochoa & Alma Latina Guajiramasguajirasmall Guajira Mas Guajira - (Tumi) Released May 2016

The renowned Eliades Ochoa teams with his sister, Maria Ochoa, and the group Alma Latina, in a pleasant blend of Cuban country music and hints of other Caribbean styles like Soca and Ska.

04/10/2016 Bill Tilford
CD Alaín Pérez Hablandojuanasmall Hablando con Juana - (Bis Music) Released 2014

Alain Pérez's 4th album (and his first for a Cuban label) is a very well put together special project - a solid dance album, part TImba, part Salsa Cubana, part ballad, all quite good. It was nominated for a Cubadisco 2015 in the category Música Popular Bailable - Novedades, "novedades" being relative here. Some of it has an early NG La Banda vibe.

07/02/2015 Bill Tilford
CD JG Jg-icon Hasta Que Salga El Sol - (Unicornio) - 2017/2018

El Dueño Del Party—JG Juan Guillermo—is back with another party-ready album. His trademark is timba and tropical/timba fusion with feel-good songs that embody the energy of youth. Highly recommended for anyone looking for something fresh.

05/07/2018 Michelle White
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
Concert Havana D'Primera Icon_-alexander HdP @Kraken - Stockholm

The band played impeccably reminding me what an awe-inspiring experience it is to see one of Cuba's greatest bands live.

10/27/2017 Michelle White
CD Angel d'Cuba Angelcdweb Heritage - (Independent Release) Released 2012.03.28

Angel d'Cuba sang with a few groups including Mezcla back in Cuba. This is his debut solo album in the United States featuring mostly his own compositions and an eclectic variety of styles including a Funk Mozambique version of Can't Hide Love.

03/25/2012 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