Friday, January 11, 2013

Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet Cuidad De Los Reyes Saponegro

Ciudad de Los ReyesThose that travel my cultural inner circle know Latin jazz is my wheelhouse, my musical sweet spot as it were. On Feb. 12 Ciudad De Los Reyes will be released  by Gabriel Alegria's Afro-Peruvian sextet.

Now when most people think "Latin Jazz" the mind immediately goes to words like "salsa" "samba" or "syncopation." Good words, they just do not apply here as Afro-Peruvian jazz makes an incredibly viable case that it is a genre unto itself and not just another branch in the Latin family tree. So the sound? 

All tunes are done in 12/8. For the none professional musician  out there think of it as groove gone wild. This is Latin jazz that can go from 0-60 by any mean necessary and the trip is a wild ride. To best give you a musical frame of reference think traditional Afro-Cuban mixed with the attitude and creativity of American free jazz.  Again, for the uninitiated that enjoys Latin jazz, unlike virtually all other forms there is no clave. What is a clave? A set rhythmic pattern that your ears pick up on naturally and instinctively on all most any time signature. Afro-Peruvian jazz is particular has a literal yin-yang approach in style, a balanced approach typical to what we might consider the traditional call and response of traditional jazz except here the rhythmic pattern has no limits. For me, the first cousin of Afro-Cuban and Brazilian jazz but far more creative thus warranting genre status unto itself.

Back to the release, Algeria is a formidable composer working with Laura Andrea Leguia they penned each tune with the notable exception of the Henry Mancini classic "Moon River." Opening with the stunning  "La Puertecita" the table is set for a variety that hits both the visceral and cerebral hard. Leguia's exquisite soprano melody is a unique riff of the Peruvian waltz "Junio Y Garua." Alegria's creativity on trumpet is second to none using the plunger mute to "growl" during this minor key blues. Despite the "groove on steroids" effect this music can take, there is a marvelous ebb and flow that is captivating.

Quickly growing in popularity Gabriel Alegria's Afro-Peruvian sextet should satisfy the most discriminating Latin jazz lover and help push the interest in a genre of music that is as organic and raw as it comes while never hitting that pretentious jazz trip wire so many artists stumble across on occasion.

Tracks: La Puertecita; Carrusel De Luces; Tarde O Temprano; La Esquina Del Pensamiento; Capicua; Junio Y Garua; Caras II; A Lima Llego El Tondero; A Lima Llego El Tondero; Moon River; La Princesa Voladora; El Primer Final; Ciudad De Los Reyes.

Personnel: Gabriel Alegria: trumpet & flugelhorn; Laura Andrea Leguia: saxophones & voice; Yuri Juarez: guitars; Freddy "Huevito" Lobaton: cajon, cajita & quijada; Hugo Alcazar: bateria (1), cajon (5,6,7,8,9,11); Shirazette Tinnin: drums (2,3,4,7), cajon (10,12,13); John Benitez: contrabajo.