Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel releases

The Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel's third recording, This Could be That, is scheduled for a January 15th, 2016 release. It's a continuation of the hard hitting, modern Latin Jazz sound they've become known for. Featuring a core octet drawn from the cream of local players, This Could Be That includes guest appearances by innovators such as Cuban-American vocalist Venissa Santi, Fania All-Stars timbalero Louie Romero, bata master Michael Spiro, Peruvian percussion star Alex Acuña, and percussion maestro John Santos. Over the past decade, the Cartel has earned a sterling reputation as a turbo-charged vehicle for interpreting challenging material, and This Could Be That includes compositions and arrangements by top-shelf writing talent from within and outside the band's rank.
In many ways This Could Be That embodies the Bay Area's close-knit Latin music community, which got a burst of international attention when the Pacific Mambo Orchestra won the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Latin Tropical Album. The PMO's co-leaders, German-born trumpeter Steffen Kuehn and Mexico City-raised pianist Christian Tumalan, both play a significant role in the Cartel. Kuehn, who plays on about half the album's tracks, brought in a state-of-the-art timba-powered arrangement of his original "Limite," which features Cuban timbalero Calixto Oviedo as a special guest. And Tumalan, who holds down the Cartel piano chair, "and is integral to developing the sound of the Cartel" Andres says, contributed a thrilling Cubanized arrangement of Chick Corea's Elektric Band anthem "Got a Match?" that slyly references Corea's standards "Armando's Rhumba" and "Spain."


The San Francisco Bay Area, a common landing ground for many travelers in flight looking for a place to grow new roots. For most, the draw is the overall culture of acceptance, diversity and progressive thought, or the cutting edge technology of Silicon Valley. Neither of those things brought me here well over a decade ago. For me, it was the echoes of a Cal Tjader mambo or the rumba jazz of the groundbreaking Machete Ensemble. Latin jazz recordings from San Francisco kept piling up on my cd player and I began feeling the urge to head West. I needed to immerse myself in the scene in the Bay Area, to see those sounds being created live, to meet the men and women making them, to become part of it. I formed the Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel to be a collaboration between some of the most talented players, composers and arrangers residing in the Bay Area. Together we strive to make our collective mark in the field of Latin jazz. The musicians in the Cartel were born in Europe, Latin America or numerous locations within the United States. Some were born in The Bay Area. Regardless of our land of origin, all of us reside here now, drawn to the rich heritage and continuing dynasty of Latin Jazz in San Francisco and feel the intense desire to contribute to it. Whether composing, arranging, or playing, a deep understanding of Caribbean rhythms and musical forms and the ability to create, improvise, and groove are all prerequisites for being a member of the ACJC. High caliber musicianship is embodied by everyone on this recording. Released in 2013, I’m very proud to present to you this audio snap shot of Latin Jazz at this moment in time in the SF Bay Area.

Like many other drummers I found myself beating out rhythms on any stationary object from an early age. The impetus to create sound, to find rhythm urged me to fill space and silence. I found the perfect voice for myself when I first sat behind a drum set. I believe it is the drum that chooses us, not vice versa. My lifelong dedication to rhythm and sound has nurtured a passion for Afro-Cuban music. The San Francisco Bay Area has historically been a hotbed for Latin Drummers. Players such as Armando Peraza, Francisco Aguabella, Benny Velarde and Orestes Vilato paved the way for John Santos, Michael Spiro, Jesus Diaz and Paul VanWageningen. Continuing in this tradition are the percussionists featured on this CD: Carlos Caro, Sandy Perez, Patricio Angulo and Colin Douglas. A drummer can speak not only with his hands or his sticks, but also through composition. The true highlight of this 2007 recording lies in the fact that all the composers featured on this CD are themselves drummers, drummers whose careers have influenced me tremendously. As players, composers, or band leaders they have all set a standard of excellence we all strive to achieve. It is with much love and respect for them and their work that I feature their tunes on this recording. I have been honored to work with my fellow Bay Area musicians to lend a voice to these compositions. The journey has been both challenging and inspirational. So whether with sticks, hands or the composer's pen, listen to the drummers speak. Featuring the tunes Complicacion by Francisco Aquabella, Estampa Cubana by Armando Peraza, Song for Chano by Ray Barretto, Manteca by Chano Pozo, Sister Cheryl by Tony Williams, Cual es la Idea by Tito Puente, Adios Mario by Bobby Sanabria, Toffi by Art Blakey and Where or Wayne by Jack DeJohnette.

other recordings

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