Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet | 10

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Latin: Afro Peruvian Jazz: Latin Jazz Moods: Instrumental
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by Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet

10" celebrates the band's 10-year anniversary, and pays tribute to one of the most famous roadways in their home country Peru, with a unique mix of U.S. and Peruvian classic songs and stunning versions of both countries' National Anthems.
Genre: Latin: Afro Peruvian
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Caravan
6:05 $0.99
2. Take Five / Condor Pasa
6:06 $0.99
3. Taita Guaranguito
7:20 $0.99
4. My Favorite Things
6:33 $0.99
5. Birdland
5:25 $0.99
6. Himno Nacional Del Perú
4:04 $0.99
7. Lonely Woman
6:54 $0.99
8. Contigo Perú
6:48 $0.99
9. Homenaje a Chincha
5:17 $0.99
10. The Star Spangled Banner
3:45 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
When it comes to Latin jazz, these are the best of times. The steady flow of stellar Latin American musicians into New York City has created a glorious hothouse of new musical hybrids, and one of the most extravagantly beautiful blooms is trumpeter Gabriel Alegría’s Afro-Peruvian Sextet. The ensemble marks its first productive decade with Ten, an insistently inventive program of American and Peruvian standards transformed by Alegría’s highly personal synthesis of folkloric Afro-Peruvian rhythms, jazz, and other musical strains. Ten features a glittering cast of special guests including bass legend Ron Carter, Grammy Award-winning pianist Arturo O’Farrill, Yellowjackets keyboardist Russell Ferrante, and tabla expert and Miles Davis alum Badal Roy, among many others.

“It’s a concept album,” Alegría says. “For our 10th anniversary, we wanted to give special care to American and Peruvian standards. It all comes together in the arrangements in the Afro-Peruvian style. We’ve incorporated many guest artists, people who have helped us along the way. Most importantly, we’ve brought together jazz musicians with eminent Peruvian musicians, and we’re the glue that holds it together.”

Holding any band together for a decade is a signature accomplishment, but for Alegría the feat is truly extraordinary, as half his players are based in Lima and half are in New York City. Freddy “Huevito” Lobatón, a founding member of the sextet, is a master of Afro-Peruvian percussion (and a three-time national Peruvian zapateo dancing champion) who grounds the band in the folkloric textures of the box-like cajón, the cajita, and the quijada (made from the jaw bone of an ass). Drummer Hugo Alcázar, a founding member of the sextet, incorporates the cajón into his drum kit’s polyrhythmic feel, while American-born drummer Shirazette Tinnin gracefully navigates the predominantly 12/8 beats. Alegría shares the front line with tenor saxophonist Laura Andrea Leguía, a tremendously expressive player who helped found the band. Peruvian criollo guitarist Yuri Juárez provides expertly calibrated rhythmic support and telegraphic solos. In New York, bass duties are shared by two veteran masters, Puerto Rican-born John Benitez and Nigerian-American Essiet Essiet.

The band’s patented blend of deep scholarship and playfulness is evident from their treatments of the national anthems included in the enticing program: a dramatic, slow-burning rendition of The Star Spangled Banner which closes the album, and a version of Himno Nacional del Perú that sounds like Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra on a lark in Lima. Arturo O’Farrill contributes elegant piano work on both tracks. Elsewhere, each piece serves as a statement about the delicate balance required to keep one foot in New York and one foot in Lima.

The opening track, Juan Tizol’s Ellingtonian classic Caravan is set to a sensuous festejo rhythm. It serves as a perfect vehicle for Alegría’s vision. Alegría tips his hat to Alex Acuña with his explosive version of Birdland, the Weather Report hit powered by the great Peruvian percussionist. My Favorite Things, set to a galloping festejo groove, features bass master Ron Carter, while the trap drum team of Hugo Alcázar and Daniel Susnjar maintain a steady roiling churn on Ornette Coleman’s Lonely Woman, a tune that Alegría decided to include “after hearing stories about Ornette from Badal,” he says. “We needed that free attitude, and the festejo groove works really well.”

One of the album’s more ingenious pieces weaves together the folkloric Condor Pasa with Paul Desmond’s Brubeck hit Take Five, a surprisingly effective arrangement built upon Peruvian guitarist Milton Mendieta’s deft fretwork on the tune’s introduction and the captivating percussion tandem of Freddy “Huevito” Lobatón on cajita and Hugo Alcázar’s cajón. Contigo Perú, a patriotic anthem, offers a similarly intricate puzzle, with a valse feel that moves into a swaying lando groove into jazz and then back to valse. It’s an arrangement that couldn’t have been created or executed by any other band.

With Ten, their debut release on ZOHO Music, Alegría and his brilliant cast of collaborators take on standards from both worlds and make them their own. There’s a lot of distance to cover between Lima and New York, and Alegría has created a highly flexible framework that allows him to state proudly that “Afro-Peruvian jazz is a real thing, and we are going to continue to push it forward.”



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