After Winter, Spring
Willie Martinez y La Familia Sextet
Cuch Be Witcha Productions
A defined band sound is like a mirror to the world around it. The musical community around the band almost always emanates from a group’s sound. Influential musicians housed within that community and historical precedent both affect a group’s artistic choices. Other genres often sit beside Latin music within a local scene, and those styles generally slip into a band’s sound as well. Simply attributing a band’s sound to the local music scene would be an oversimplification though, other elements reflect through the sound. Individual musicians bring outside influences and songwriting approaches into the ensemble. Different collaborations of musicians always inspire various interactive elements that shape the music. All these elements combine into a unique reflection that starts with the band and travels into the world. Willie Martinez y La Familia Sextet deliver a distinct reflection of New York Latin Jazz on After Winter, Spring in a collection that combines local influences with their personal songwriting and performance styles.
Forming The Backbone of the Group’s Sound
Martinez takes a major part in shaping the group’s sound by penning several of the album’s tracks. The wind players provide spacious melodic lines over a driving bomba and a pedal tone on “After Winter, Spring” before moving into a more rhythmic melody and active chord changes. Baritone saxophonist Maximillian Scheweiger displays uncommon dexterity on the instrument, weaving bebop-flavored lines through the chord changes. Trombonist J. Walter Hawkes mixes rhythmic ideas and connected phrases before pianist Misha Tsiganov builds a well-constructed solo. An up-tempo son montuno drives a minor melody on “Para Los Bravos” until the rhythm section jumps into a forceful samba on the bridge. Tsiganov plays an energetic improvisation, full of melodic invention, followed by an explosive exchange between the wind players and Martinez. After a return to the melody, the band establishes a vamp for a climactic solo from conguero Cristián Rivera. A repetitive horn line over a Puerto Rican plena serves as an introduction to “Cayey” until the band transitions into a driving son montuno for the melody. Schweiger inspires interaction from the rhythms section with his instrument’s percussive qualities until the band quiets, allowing Hawkes to slowly build his statement. Tsiganov carefully develops his ideas, cleverly growing his initial thought into an engaging solo. Martinez’s voice as a composer forms the backbone of the group’s sound, with plenty of space for band contributions through improvisations.
Building The Sound Becomes a Collaborative Process
Two group members contribute compositions as well, giving the sense of a collaborative experience. Tsiganov opens “Anthony,” his tribute to deceased drummer Tony Williams, with a short but fierce solo, before the band explodes into a virtuosic melody. Hawkes tackles the song’s quick pace with a combination of open lines, rhythmic ideas, and rapid phrases until Tsiganov builds his statement through sequences, syncopated chords, and flurries of notes. Schweiger provides an aggressive solo that matches the songs frenetic energy, leading into a series of band hits filled with taste and skill by Martinez. A percussive vamp transitions into an ear-catching melody on Schweiger’s “Willie’s Blues.” Much of the band disappears as bassist Jennifer Vincent performs a finely crafted improvisation that leads to Schweiger laid-back blues solo with interspersed quick lines. Tsiganov weaves interesting ideas through a subdued feel until an interlude transitions into an exciting statement from Martinez. Both Tsiganov and Schweiger provide pieces with a strong character that provides another side to the group’s personality.
Expanding The Group’s Sound With Vocals
Martinez provides vocals on two pieces, which are both arrangements of well-known songs. Tsiganov and Vincent place short chords over a cha cha cha rhythm while the horns reference the melody on Bobby Hebb’s classic “Sunny.” Martinez provides a soulful vocal on the melody, building into a catchy and melodic statement from Hawkes. After an improvisation full of fast lines from Tsiganov, Martinez returns to his vocal with a growling enthusiasm, followed by an enthusiastic bongó solo by Renato Thomas. Schweiger and Hawkes intertwine notes over a slow 6/8, forming a unique foundation for Martinez’s vocal on “Cosas del Alma.” The band transitions into bolero, allowing Martinez to display a sensitive side to his vocal work, full of subtleties. Tsiganov provides a short but poignant solo, rounding out a rich and colorful arrangement of the classic standard. Both songs expand the group’s sound, adding a commercial appeal and an extended melodic sensibility.
A Vivid Reflection of An Appealing Musical World
Martinez and his group display a vivid reflection on After Winter, Spring that sparkles with the sound of New York and a defined artistry among the band members. The blend of authentic rhythms from Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Brazil with straight-ahead bebop improvisation implies New York at every turn. Martinez’s melodic sensibility adds an appealing nature to his compositions, while his connection to Latin styles contribute rhythmic propulsion both danceable and interesting. His vocal work creates another dimension to the band, both likeable and intriguing; his vocals carry that simultaneous depth and familiarity that touch people on many levels. Schweiger and Tsiganov provide another rich aspect to the band with their compositions. The group’s performance seems both focused and comfortable, revealing many years of shared experiences. Each musician presents a personal improvisational voice that keeps the tracks interesting, and seems to push the other band members. As Martinez y La Familia Sextet reflect their sound into the world on After Winter, Spring, they introduce us to their musical world that seems a nice place to stay awhile.
Check Out These Related Posts:
Album of the Week: Cultural Survival, David Sanchez
Album of the Week: Taking The Soul For A Walk, Dafnis Prieto Sextet
Album of the Week: Father & Son, Negroni’s Trio