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SpanishEnglishÚltima Noticia (Zona Jazz 2016/EGREM 2017)

CD Review: Última Noticia by Yissy & Bandancha (Zona Jazz 2016/EGREM 2017)
Review by Bill Tilford, all rights reserved

From a certain point of view, this review is about a year overdue, but I kept waiting for that magic moment - official release date,  some other key event - and that finally came after seemingly forever in the form of its two Cubadisco awards (Cubadisco has different rules than the GRAMMYs of North America regarding new releases) in Opera Prima (best new artist) and Diseño (design). Última Noticia is an excellent example of how genre labels are becoming increasingly more complicated in Cuba; the keepers of the NuJazz and Fusión flames could easily  justify fighting over who "owns" it.  In addition to the music itself being unique, the recording has an interesting origin story - it was born as an independent project that used a crowdfunding website in Spain to raise the funds to make the recording.  The name of the group, Bandancha (broadband, as in high-speed Internet) was selected from a list of suggestions given by friends and associates of the group.   The songs were released in digital form on the band's website last year, and finally, EGREM picked up the project for distribution within Cuba (starting as an independent project  and taking the product to a label like EGREM afterwards is an increasingly common occurrence in the recording industry in Cuba today). 

The leader of Yissy & Bandancha, Yissy García, is an exceptional drummer/percussionist/composer who is in high demand with many of the best projects in Cuba and also drums with Jane Bunnett's Maqueque project. Her lineage includes Irakere's founding drummer Bernardo García.  She has had her own project for over 5 years but was casual about how she named it until the name Bandancha was finally chosen. 

The opening track, Cambios, has a very celestial beginning before opening up into a slow jam. Última Noticia begins with a scan of multiple radio channels over the introduction before unfolding into a motif that perhaps most closely resembles what one would call Fusion in the United States. Pequeña Sambita is just that, a forceful Samba that includes a berimbau. Mr. Miller is a slow jam in honor of Marcus Miller.  Avi  starts in 7/4 and then changes up to 4/4 and back to 7/4 at the end, is reminiscent of some of Emiliano Salvador's best work, with Jorge Aragón doing the heavy melodic lifting on piano.     Comienzo is a very pretty ballad; A Roy alternates  between straight-ahead Jazz and some very nasty Funk; think Acid Jazz 3.0.  Te cogio lo que anda reminds you that this is made in Cuba, a very strong Rumba with flashes of electronica here and there.  Tutu, although composed by Marcus Miller and Miles Davis, is given a very Cuban treatment, both trumpeter Julio Rigal and keyboardist Aragón have some shining moments. 

Overall, Última Noticia by Yissy & Bandancha  is one of the best specimens of the NuJazz movement in Cuba (I'm going to go on that side of the isle in deference to some of the critics in Cuba), and i think we will be seeing a lot of them on tour outside of Cuba in the not so distant future.     Here's the band in action on two tracks:

1. Cambios (comp. Yissy García)
2. Última noticia (comp. Yissy García)
3. Pequeña Sambita (comp. Yissy García)
4.  Mr. Miller (comp. Yissy García)
5. Avi (comp. Jorge Aragón)
6. Comienzo (comp. Yissy García)
7. A Roy (comp. Julio Rigal)
8. Te cogio lo que anda  (comp. Julio Rigal)
9. Tutu (comp. Marcus Miller & Miles Davis)
10. Sin regreso (comp. Jorge Aragon)

Credits for Última Noticia

Role - InstrumentName
Sequencers 1-2, Drums/Percussion 3, 6, 8 Yissy García
Piano & Keyboards Jorge Aragón
Bass  Julio César González
Trumpet/Flugelhorn Julio Rigal
Turntables/Synthesizer (1-4) DJ Jigüe
Guest Artists:  Kelvis Ochoa (vocals, 8); Yusa (tres, 8); Héctor Quintana (electric guitar, 1, 6, 7); Roberto Gómez (electric-acoustic guitar, 6); Emir Santacruz (tenor sax, 10); José Ángel "El Negro" (percussion 2, 3, 4, 8, 9); Ayram Varona (bass 2, 10, synthesizer 2); Sheena (coros 8) 
Musical Direction Yissy García
Musical Production Jorge Aragón/Yissy Garcíá
Executive Producer  Yoanna Grass (Zona Jazz Cuba)
Recording, Mix and Mastering Orestes Águila
Sound Assistant  Milena Lavastida
Production Assistant Lida Romero / Ernesto E. Cerutto 
Studio Estudios Abdala, la Habana, Cuba
Piano Tuning FLorita Villareal
Graphic Design Nelson Ponce
Photography Olivia Prendes
Fashion, Makeup (cover) Celia Ledón, Celina Rodríguez
Bill Tilford - Sunday, 02 July 2017, 08:49 PM