Zoho Music: Lower Westchester County's Biggest Secret
Latin / Jazz with a New York Vibe is a very accurate description of the music released by the New York record label Zoho Music. Borne from the archives of Khaeon Records, formerly a premiere independent exponent of Latin jazz, Zoho Music was the brainchild of über-entrepreneur Jochen Becker. Some of the original Khaeon releases made it into the Zoho catalog. These include Bobby Sanabria's Quarteto, Ach (formerly Khaeon's Quarteto, Ach), Carlos Barbosa-Lima's Frenesi (formerly Khaeon's Natalia), and Greg Skaff's Highway 54 (formerly Khaeon's Blues for Mr. T). Presented here is a second installment of releases from the label, the first installment having been published in the May 2004 issue of All About Jazz. This is an independent label to keep an eye on.
Rippling below the surface of the mainstream Latin jazz jones, one would have to believe there is a never ending font of inspiration and creativity. The Dave Stryker incarnation, Trio Mundo, is evidence of this trend. Perhaps it is unfair to call this a "Dave Stryker incarnation. The band more properly belongs to percussionist Manolo Bandrena's who's irrepressible personality explodes from each piece on Rides Again. His conversational expressions on "Mundo Rides Again" and "Sweet Rhythm" are perfectly in place. Dave Stryker sets up the rhythm channel that is picked up by reedsman Steve Slagle (a close Stryker associate on other projects). "Sweet Rhythm" is the party song of the disc. This is one to set the groove mood. "Corazon" is an acoustic guitar vehicle for a light ballad that is simple, yet complicated. "Africano" takes advantage of Bander's dead on time. Stryker and Slagle cross fingers in this Islands over Mainland shuffle. Trio Mundo Rides Again is as satisfying and in many ways superior (if that is possible) to the group's first release, Carnival. Hell, check them both out.
Track Listing: 1. Mundo Rides Again; 2. Cameroun; 3. Sweet Rhythm; 4. Corazon; 5. What You Want; 6. Guille; 7. Pinarena; 8. Africano; 9. Dream Maurice; 10. Hot Ice; 11. Shanti.
Personnel: Manolo Badrena drums, percussion, guitar, vocals; Dave Stryker guitar; Andy McKee bass; special guest : Steve Slagle soprano & alto sax, flute.
This is the least Latin-oriented recording of the bunch and it matters not a smidgen. Judi Silvano has more class than you can shake a stick at. Let Yourself Go is a sleek cruise through the suburbs of the American Songbook. Like all great ballad albums, this one focuses on Love. Not love lost or in pain, but love found and cherished. Miss Silvano's recital is guided by the expert arrangements of session pianist Michael Abene, leads a little big band behind the singer through "Why Do I Love You?," "I only have Eyes for You," and "Goodbye." This is just scratching the surface. A straight-ahead session to be sure. Let Yourself Go is quite the jewel in this catalog.
Track Listing: 1. Let Yourself Go; 2. Let's Fall In Love; 3. Why Do I Love You?; 4. I'm In The Mood For Love; 5. I Only Have Eyes For You; 6. When I Fall In Love; 7. I Could Write A Book; 8. I Love Paris; 9. Our Love Is Here To Stay; 10. Goodbye; 11. Everytime We Say Goodbye.
Personnel: Judi Silvano, voice; Michael Abene piano, arranger & conductor; Rufus Reid bass; Newman Taylor - Baker drums; Dick Oatts soprano & alto sax; Ingrid Jensen trumpet & flugelhorn; Roger Rosenberg bass clarinet & baritone sax; Akua Dixon cello; Dan Silverman trombone; Jamie Baum alto flute; Mayra Casales percussion; Nita Goodgal background vocals on # 11.
This disc is one greasy mo-fo. The jewel case states that Pete Levin plays "keyboards." That's nice. Levin and leader Richie Hart tear into Monk's "Well You Needn't," infusing it with a funky backbeat with enough momentum to crush your face. Without letting up, Hart and Levin, fully engage drummer Joe Corsello, who, with bassist Rick Petrone propel this band into check shack heaven on "That Blues." The band is seriously cooking right off the bat. More blues follows with Lalo Schrifin's "The Fox." Hart changes pace with an elegant reading of John Coltrane's "Black Pearls." Hart has an almost rock-like tone but still possesses a jazz musicality in his chording and single note leads. He has a great touch when it comes to dem dirty blues. But he can do much more. "Georgia on my Mind" is treated respectfully, while giving the piece a harmonic workout. Ditto for "Autumn Leaves." The disc closes with a daring and entertaining West Side Story medley. Good show, Richie Hart, for that.
Track Listing: 1. Well You Needn't; 2. That Blues R; 3. Sandu; C.Brown; 4. The Fox; 5. Black Pearls; 6. Georgia on my Mind; 7. Autumn Leaves; 8.Fresh Air; 9.On a High Note; 10.West Side Story Medley.
Personnel: Richie Hart guitar; Rick Petrone bass; Joe Corsello drums & percussion; Special guests : Pete Levin keyboards; Gerry Niewood sax.
Released originally on Khaeon as Mambo No.5, Siboney pairs guitarist Carlos Barbosa-Lima noted Latin Jazz bassist Eddie Gomez. The match makes for a good fit. The two musicians share a deep empathy for the music they are playing and what a card of tunes it is. This disc highlights Latin popular music of the '30s, '40s, and '50s, with an emphasis on composers Ernesto Lecuona, Rafael Hernandez, and Ernesto Cordero. Barbosa-Lima performs solo and with his ensemble. The music and playing is simply intoxicating. This music will be immediately familiar to any American Listener. Pieces like Juan Tizol's "Perdido" demonstrate the direct link between Latin music and the American musical unconscious. There is little point in looking for highlights, because there are none or they all are. Music of this caliber is simply sublime.
Track Listing: 1.Mambo No. 5; 2.Drume Negrita; 3.Perdido; 4.Ojos Brujos; 5.Siboney; 6.Tico Tico; 7.Guantanamera; 8.Siempre en mi Corazon; 9.La Comparsa; 10.Lamento Borincano; 11.Bahia; 12.Solamente; Una Vez 13.El Cumbancherito; 14.Aquarela do Brasil; 15.Cachita; 16.Maria la O; 17.Danza Lucumi; 18.Perfidia.
Personnel: Carlos Barbosa-Lima, guitar; Eddie Gomez, bass on tracks 1, 6, 11 and 18; Oscar Hernandez, piano, on tracks 1, 6, and 11; Dafnis Prieto, drums & Latin percussion, on tracks 1, 6, and 11; Pepe Torres, congas on tracks 1, 13 and 15.
Jim Seeley/Arturo O'Farrill Quintet is less edgy and more traditional in many ways than Dafnis Prieto's fine recording discussed below. But make no mistake, they are cut from the same cloth. "Truth Juice" is a straight ahead blues that shows Arturo O'Farrill as greater than the sum of his name and his talent in the studio. Here he plays like Red Garland directing a great quintet (but not that or those quintets). But there, that stops. The bulk of this recording is populated with smart, electric piano driven contemporary Latin Jazz, smooth as agave distilled to the lightness of a child's breath. Jim Seeley has a beautiful round tone that melds perfectly with the lush bed laid down by the O'Farrill-Gonzolez-Rivera rhythm section. If About the Monks is too much, this may be just right.
Track Listing: 1. Truth Juice; 2. Solita; 3. Starry Night; 4. Little General; 5. Forest Path; 6. New Meaning; 7. Cha Cha; 8. Child's Toy.
Personnel: Jim Seeley, trumpet & flugelhorn; Arturo O'Farrill, electric and acoustic piano; Jed Levy, tenor sax & flute; Andy Gonzalez, bass; Phoenix Rivera, drums.
Among the best Latin Jazz recording sessions are lead by percussionists/drummers. About the Monks is no exception. ZoHo mainstay Dafnis Prieto seems, like Dave Stryker, all over the map today, appearing on many recordings, and for good reason, he is a rhythm master. The music he produces here is all about movement and humidity. Hot Latin jazz has a beautifully dramatic quality that makes its live performance compelling. Prieto achieves this feeling in the studio with the likes of title piece, "Tumba Franchesca," and "Danzon Santa Clara." His front of trumpeter Brian Lynch and saxophonist Yosvany Terry coupled with the drive of pianist Luis Perdomo really makes for the efficient transfer of this heat from the bandstand to the listener.
Track Listing: 1. About the Monks; 2. Tumba Francesca; 3. Ironico Arlequin; 4. Danzon Santa Clara; 5. On and On; 6. Trio Absolute; 7. Mechanical Movement; 8. Interrupted Question; 9. Conga en Ti.
Personnel: Brian Lynch trumpet; Yosvany Terry sax; Luis Perdomo piano, Fender Rhodes piano; Hans Glawischning bass; Ilmar Gavilan violin; Dafnis Prieto drums, percussion.
Havana Blues Mambo is on the opposite side of the Latin Jazz coin from Barbosa-Lima's Siboney. Electrically charged and very contemporary, guitarist Pablo Menendez shows where the music featured on Siboney will eventually end up as it travels the byways of Cuban experience. Menendez has been most closely associated with the Afro-Cuban Fusion Septet Mezcla, who had released a very fine recording on the Khaeon Label, Akimba. Havana Blues Mambo has got considerably softer edges than the Mezcla release without sacrificing any of the rhythmic thrust or guitar virtuosity. Menendez again employs a large group and achieves a layered sound that is highly polished. Que up "Akete Oba Oba" to see how a traditional Island piece is transformed into modern diamond that shows off the considerable talent assembled for Havana Blues Mambo.
Track Listing: 1. Mambo Influenciado; 2. Akete Oba Oba; 3. La Gitana; 4. Sueño Con Serpientes; 5. Grifo -Animal Mitológico; 6. Bonnie's Blues Mambo; 7. 'Round Midnight; 8. Quien Fuera; 9. Hijos de la Mezcla; 10. People Together.
Personnel: Pablo Menéndez, electric guitar on all songs, acoustic guitar on # 2,6,9; Miguel Miranda, acoustic guitar on # 1, 3, 4, 7; Rafael Paseiro, bass on 1 - 4, 7 - 9; Jose Hermida, bass on 5, 6, 10; Jesus Fuentes (Puntilla, sax on # 5; Orlando Sanchez, sax on # 10; Amed Torrecilla, sax on # 8, all flutes; Bellita (Lilla Exposito, piano on # 3, 4, 8, 9; Luis Badell, vocal on # 7 and percussion; Octavio Rodriguez, percussion on # 2 and 10, Bata drums; Yomar Amador, percussion and Bata drums on # 9.
Twenty-three-year-old Simone Kopmajer has a beautifully simple and understated alto voice that perfectly conveys all of the pathos and ethos of the jazz vocal standard. The daughter of Austrian musicians, Miss Kopmajer learned her lessons well and those lessons emphasized the basics. Simple is not necessarily simple when a song like "How Do You Keep the Music Playing" is dispatched with such crystalline clarity that one can see through it. This vocal approach should please everyone. While Miss Kopmajer takes no chances, she needn't to. Her singing is so engaging that she warrants, no, demands many listenings. Backed by a crack band that includes pianist and arranger John Di Martino, bassist George Mraz, drummer Tim Horner, and sax master Eric Alexander, Miss Kopmajer weaves her way through the sacred in jazz ballads. Jobim's "Someone to Light Up My Life" delivered almost sotto voce, tempers sexual longing with the purely romantic. Of note is her bang-up treatment of "The Way You Look Tonight." That we should all have a greeting like that.
Track Listing: 1. How Do You Keep the Music Playing?; 2. A Blossom Fell; 3. We Kiss in a Shadow; 4. Calling You; 5. Whatever Happens; 6. Exactly Like You; 7. Someone to Light Up My Life; 8. The Way You Look Tonight; 9. A Time for Love; 10. Where or When; 11. Just Squeeze Me; 12. Whatever Happens (Reprise).
Personnel: Simone Kopmajer vocals; John di Martino piano and all arrangements; George Mraz bass; Tim Horner drums; Eric Alexander tenor sax
Visit Zoho Music on the web.