pablo menendez pure mezclaThe idea of fusion in Latin Jazz is an interesting thought, filled with layers of subtext. In reality, the most basic concept of Latin Jazz is based upon fusion – bringing together traditions into a new way of playing music. Most jazz fans will overlook that idea though and bounce right to the traditional notion of fusion as the melding of jazz improvisation and funk or rock rhythms. We tend to emphasize the act of bringing two musical worlds together, but there’s so much more to fusion. True fusion dips into multiple influences, aesthetics, and cultural traditions; in reality, this version of fusion – especially when you frame it within the context of Latin Jazz – is much more difficult to attain.

When we consider the overall idea of fusion as bringing together multiple artistic aesthetics into one unified whole, there’s not many musicians that reach that goal like guitarist Pablo Menéndez and his group Mezcla. Listening to their recent recording Pure Mezcla, it’s obvious that the group pulls everything from Cuban dance music to Santería, rock and rock into their fusion. As they bring together all these elements, there’s a conscious attempt to honor the traditions that spawned them. When Mezcla integrates Santería music, the batá rhythms and the songs honor their orishas in traditional fashion. As Menéndez draws on his rock roots, his guitar screams with a heavy distortion that would make Eddie Van Halen proud. The group’s jazz influences mean rich harmonies, angular modern melodies, and smart improvisation. Mezcla isn’t about throwing together some disparate rhythms and harmonies, it’s about thoughtfully finding connection points between related traditions with respect to their cultural heritage.

It’s exciting to see this fusion happen live on stage, which is just what we’ve got in this week’s Latin Jazz Video Fix, featuring Mezcla. All three of these videos come from the concert at Yoshi’s – Oakland which served as the inspiration for Pure Mezcla. Each of these songs provides a good sampling of the fusion that Mezcla brings to the stage. These are smart musicians that have done their homework and continue to innovate based upon their respect for tradition – there’s some outstanding work happening on stage that’s both inspiring and thought provoking. This amazing music will change your perspective on fusion – enjoy!

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“Seis por Ocho”

“Mambo Influenciado”

Finale

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Check out Pablo Menéndez’s website HERE.
Check out some recordings from Pablo Menéndez & Mezcla:

Havana Blues Mambo


I’ll See You In Cuba


¡Akimba!


Las Puertas Están Abiertas

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Check Out These Related Posts:
Album Of The Week: Pure Mezcla, Pablo Menéndez & Mezcla
Album Of The Week: I’ll See You In Cuba, Pablo Menéndez & Mezcla
Latin Jazz Video Fix: 3 Classic Bass Descargas
Latin Jazz Video Fix: Elio Villafranca & The Jass Syncopators

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