As world fusion in jazz continually moves one away from the primary centre defined by the blues and swing, global musicians take up the challenge of improvisation over a sonic bed of native and ethnic rhythms and melodies. Jesse Ryan, a Trinidad-born saxophonist now based in Canada, joins a group of Caribbean musicians seeking ways to successfully commercialise the “West Indian accent in jazz.” On half of Bridges, his debut album, he explores the rhythmic pulse of Tobago’s native tambrin band music. Modern jazz interpolation with the sound of the tambourine drum creates a soundscape for another interpretation of New World African music. With a subdued sound mix, sublime conversations between guitar, piano, sax, and percussion become epic in intention, effective in interpretation. This brilliant album, three years in the making, is an opening statement of a new jazz artist in the diaspora reconnecting with his roots to seal the idea of Caribbean music beyond a dance accompaniment.
Viento y Tiempo: Live at Blue Note Tokyo Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Aymée Nuviola
(Top Stop Music)
Cuba is an enigma for many travellers in the Americas. Its music salvages its imposed reputation as an outlier. Performance and its recording in global cities fortify a notion, widely recognised in the Caribbean, of the supremacy of the canon and artistry of Cuban musicians. Afro-Cuban jazz pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba and singer Aymée Nuviola, “La Sonera del Mundo” — both Grammy winners — performing before an audience in Japan, offer “a tribute to the music that flows through the streets of Havana which we grew up with.” Rumba and jazz, classic son montunos and danzonetes, boleros and ballads, and other tropical rhythms are mixed with call and response singing, jazz improvisation, percussive breaks, and dynamic piano playing to recorded elation from a Tokyo crowd. The collaboration of these childhood friends, and others, suggests Cuba’s musical history is manifestly rich.