When South American and Caribbean musicians venture into the realm of jazz, they are really moving between two worlds. They are dealing with two different sets of cultural elements that revolve around distinct histories and aesthetics. While all these musics share clear commonalities, the differences can be overwhelming and sometimes blinding. Bridges between the different musical styles can be found, but without experience as a roadmap, the different styles seem worlds apart. In the case of contemporary Latin Jazz, artists are often dealing with several musical traditions from across the Caribbean and South America. The connection between multiple worlds becomes even more challenging as musicians attempt to integrate jazz with traditions from across the Southern hemisphere. A successful merging of several musical worlds can produces beautiful results, but only when musicians move smoothly between diverse traditions. The task for Latin Jazz artists becomes finding the paths to successfully merge the different musical worlds. Pianist Kiki Sanchez brings together Afro-Cuban, Afro-Peruvian, and jazz traditions beautifully on his album Two Worlds, demonstrating his ability to see key connection points between each style.
Combining Jazz And Afro-Cuban Music
Sanchez combines elements of jazz and Afro-Cuban music on several pieces. The drummer charge into an up-tempo rumba while Sanchez plays a reflective melody on “It Will Come To Me,” before the whole group leaps into an aggressive 6/8 section. Sanchez grabs the song’s momentum and cleverly propels quick lines through the rhythm section’s flowing groove and changing feels. As Sanchez builds his song into a tense climax, he flies into a powerful montuno, providing the drummers a chance to highlight the percussive intricacies of the style. A ferocious percussion break opens into a bluesy flourish from Sanchez on “Abundance,” leading into a slyly funky melody over a driving cha cha cha. An assertive montuno transitions the group into Sanchez’s solo, where he develops a series of cleverly understated melodies into a bundle of edgy tension. The pianist moves into a steady montuno for energetic improvisations from percussionist Hugo Bravo on both timbales and congas. A quick timbale fill sends the group into a vibrant bop tinged melody from Sanchez and trumpet player Peter Francis on “Desires.” Francis nimbly moves his way through the rapid chord changes, creating appealing melodies until Sanchez runs a smart combination of jazz lines and rhythmic ideas through the solo cycle. The rhythm section hits a series of short hits, setting the stage for an inspired exchange between conguero Daniel Berroa and drummer Reiner Guerra. These pieces reveal Sanchez’s keen insight into the connection between jazz and Afro-Cuban music, shown through strong performances and compositions.
Fluidly Bringing Together Jazz And Afro-Peruvian Traditions
Sanchez brings together jazz and Afro-Peruvian music on other tracks. A tightly executed percussion break sends the rhythm section into an up-tempo festejo while Sanchez interprets a traditional melody on “Oita Noma.” A bluesy interlude transitions into an interesting statement from Sanchez, who twists jazz tinged lines over the traditional changes. The pianist jumps into an assertive montuno that sets the stage for an inspired improvisation from Koki Leturia on cajon. Bassist Oscar Huaranga establishes a sparse bass vamp on “Quisiera Ser Caramelo” while Juan “Cotito” Medrano fills on cajon and Sanchez floats gentle chords over the top. Vocalist Susana Baca joins the group on the melody, approaching the lyrics with an understated reverence and a rich elegance. Sanchez fills thoughtfully behind Baca, carefully building his improvised ideas into a storm of harmonic motion with the enthusiastic help of Medrano. The drums fill into an unassuming line from bassist Mark Curtis Beverly in “Festejo Lando,” allowing Sanchez to play through a strong melody with a wide dynamic range. Sanchez deftly sends smart lines traveling over the rhythm section, delivering an improvisation filled with a fluid demonstration of technique and jazz insight. A powerful montuno from Sanchez sends the rhythm section into high gear, facilitating an exciting exchange of ideas between Sanchez and the percussionists. A delicate presentation of carefully chosen notes leads Sanchez into “Maria Lando,” where he is soon joined by Baca. The two musicians demonstrate a rich sense of communication, with Sanchez responding thoughtfully to Baca’s expressive vocal. The drums add dramatic effect with rolls and coloristic build-ups that allow Sanchez and Baca to work their performance into a dynamic frenzy. Sanchez fluidly combines jazz improvisation with Afro-Peruvian styles, delivering an exciting meeting point between these two traditions.
Finding The Best Of Both Worlds
Sanchez shows the powerful benefits of finding a meeting point between musical lineages on Two Worlds, producing music that brings the best of all styles into the forefront. Much of the success of Sanchez’s blend between Afro-Cuban music and jazz comes from his own writing. His ability to mix a forceful percussive element into a jazz fueled set of melodies and harmonies results in a number of memorable pieces. His playing in this context resonates with a knowledge and confidence that supports the strength of his compositions. For the most part, Sanchez draws upon traditional Peruvian music for the remaining repertoire, giving him the opportunity to show refined arranging ideas. His performance in an Afro-Peruvian Jazz context shines with a natural ease and detailed stylistic insight. The inclusion of Baca on two tracks connects Sanchez back to Peruvian folk music, and the pianist looks upon this world through a jazz perspective. His use of improvisation and harmony consistently compliments Baca’s vocals, showing the organic connection between past and present. Although Sanchez deals with a number of cultural traditions on Two Worlds, he proves that there’s always a common meeting point when you take the time to find the best of both worlds.
1. It Will Come To Me (Kiki Sanchez)
2. Abundance (Kiki Sanchez)
3. Quisiera Ser Caramelo (Andrés Soto)
4. Desires (Kiki Sanchez)
5. Oita Noma (Caitro Soto De La Colina)
6. Festejo Lando (Kiki Sanchez)
7. Days Of Wine And Roses (Henry Mancini)
8. Maria Lando (Chabuca Granda)
Kiki Sanchez – piano and keyboards; Daniel Berroa – percussion (1, 4, 7); Edilio Bermudez – electric bass (1, 7); Hugo Bravo – percussion & vocals (2, 3, 5, 8); Oscar Huaranga – baby bass & vocals (2, 3, 5); Braulio “Babin” Hernandez – electric bass (4); Matt Crowning – drums (6); Mark Curtis Beverly – acoustic bass (6); Peter Francis – trumpet (7); Reinier Guerra – drums & percussion (1, 4, 7); Alexis Cuesta “Mipa” – percussion & vocals (4); Koki Leturia – Afro-Peruvian percussion (5); Juan Medrano “Cotito” – cajon (3)
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