Thursday, January 2, 2014

Manuel Valera & New Cuban Express Mavo 2013

Manuel Valera & New Cuban Express welcome you to the land of rhythm and groove!
Brent Black /
Those of you that travel in my inner circle known as the musical mafia dig that Latin music in all of it's varied forms makes my musical a
back leg shake. This 2013 release finds this critic fashionably late to an Afro-Cuban party that is the personification of groove taken to the next dimension of flavor.
Expectativas is the seventh release as a leader for Valera. His exponential growth as a composer, pianist and bandleader place both Manuel Valera & New Cuban Express among the elite. This Cuban collective contains some of the most inspired recording today including saxophone virtuoso Yosvany Terry and a delightful cameo from Manuel's father, Manuel Valera Sr. on "La Gloria Eres Tu." The somewhat personal connectivity with the music is continued with the exquisite "Isabelita" which celebrates the birth of his daughter in 2008. Valera's compositional depth and rich sonic color palette is highlighted with "Las Americas" which is dedicated to the American continent and all of their friends in the Western Hemisphere.
It sounds a tad cliché to refer to any Latin music as having a smoldering underbelly, a rhythmic life force that celebrates far more than just the notes captured on a shiny silver disc. Latin music on any level is far more than the addition of a cowbell or the bright and breezy samba found on the Brazilian coast line. Strong lyrical lines, emotional harmonic development and committed players that can capture this organ force with passion is indeed a beautiful thing. The rhythm section featured here is beyond reproach, a beat you hear with your feet and feel from a spot well past the soul. Manuel Valera & New Cuban Express received a Grammy nomination which is of little surprise. Rarely can you point to a release as a game changer for any genre of music, Expectativas elevates and embraces a lyrical life force similar ensembles are still searching for. Easily one of the finest for 2013!
Tracks: Chamber Timba; Expectativas; Perception; Chennai Express; Intro To Isabelita; Isabelita; Jben Timbus; La Gloria Eres Tu; En Cinco; Open Window; Descarga Para Frank Emilo; Las Americas.

Personnel: Manuel Valera: Piano, Fender Rhodes, Synths; Yosvany Terry: Alto and Soprano Saxophone, Chekere (except 8); Tom Guarna: Electric and Acoustic Guitar; John Benitez: Electric Bass; Ludwig Alfonso: Drums; Paulo Stagnaro: Percussion 2-10, 12; Mauricio Herrera: Bata on 6, Percussion on 1 & 11; Special Guest: Manuel Valera Sr.
: Alto Saxophone (8).