Leo Blanco | Africa Latina

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World: South American Jazz: Crossover Jazz Moods: Type: Instrumental
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Africa Latina

by Leo Blanco

Mesmerizing recording that explores the unique connection between African and Venezuelan music. Enthralling and enlightening, "Africa Latina" succeeds on many levels with music that breathes and moves with new persuasions.
Genre: World: South American
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Caraballeda
6:20 $0.99
2. Serendipity
6:41 $0.99
3. Gaita
5:17 $0.99
4. Peru Lando
6:33 $0.99
5. Afro East
4:43 $0.99
6. Yemen
6:45 $0.99
7. Africa Latina
11:29 $0.99
8. Long Term
5:10 $0.99
9. Venezuelan Rhapsody
9:26 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Antonio Sanchez: Drums
Bakithi Kumalo: Bass
Peter Slavov: Double Bass
Donny McCalsin: Sax
Billy Drew: Bass Clarinet
Jackelin Rago: Afro Venezuelan-Percussion
Martin Vejarano: Afro-Colombian Precussion
Steve Shehan: Percussion

CD/LP Review | Published: December 18, 2009

Africa Latina
Leo Blanco

The ubiquitous expression that is "world music" is becoming less relevant as musicians across the globe speak a common language that embraces varied cultures and people. Pianist, composer, and arranger Leo Blanco emphatically proves the point on Africa Latina, a mesmerizing recording that explores the unique connection between African and Venezuelan music.

Whereas the similar recording by pianist Omar Sosa's Across The Divide: A Tale Of Rhythm & Ancestry (Half Note, 2009) spoke of Afro-Cuban and American music, Blanco masterfully incorporates the folkloric sounds of his Venezuelan homeland with its exotic percussion, ethnic vocals, and a modernist stance that is captivating.

A splendid pianist, Blanco's academic training is heightened by improvisational skills honed by sharing the international stage with both classical orchestras and noted jazzartists. For this recording, he makes good use of his facilities with a band that includes guitarist, Lionel Loueke, saxophonist Donny McCaslin, drummer Antonio Sanchez, and a fine host of others such as singer Heeidi Rondon.

Blanco's writing is the catalyst, orchestrating a multi-colored tapestry of sound. "Caraballeda," named after a small Afro-Venezuelan village, begins as a blues-like shuffle then morphs into a sweet pocketed tempo with its abundant percussion and smooth keyboards swaying within an infectious dance pattern. "Serendepity's" ebullience is filled with African call and response chants from Rondon's poetic voice and Loueke's earthy Benin (West African) dialect.

The pianist's hypnotic ostinato pattern fuels the unforgettable "Gaita," elevated by Victor Cruz' duel gaitas (male and female Colombian flutes). The dramatic "Peru Lando" (Afro Peruvian) contains seductive rubato, propelled by sinewy bass work and Blanco's inquisitive keys.
There are haunting tracks like "Afro East" and "Yemen," spirited by a variety of exotic instruments—Ethiopian (harp and flute), Ocean drums, Tibetan bells, and Angklung, each meticulously yet freely incorporated throughout.

The last three tracks are more mainstreamed in Afro-Latin jazz. The title is a groovy quintet number with Blanco bringing the heat via frosty Fender Rhodes as more coals are put on the fire by McCaslin's ever impressive tenor and Sanchez' demonstrative traps. It's followed by some modal fireworks on "Long Term" and culminates nicely with "Venezuelan Rhapsody," another upbeat track highlighted by McCaslin's reedy solo and Blanco's encyclopedic pianism.
By Mark F. Turner
Senior Contributor
All About Jazz

quote from: www.thebeatingeplanet.com

Leo Blanco seems to be going far beyond many of his contemporaries when it comes to blending various elements of jazz into a more vernacular language. The mix is often thrilling and perverse in its approach. However, his compositions are far from pretensions. Instead, they are honest and complex, rich and enjoyable, a Venezuelan trademark.

“Serendipity”, a term that seemed a sort of fad a few years ago, is the second track of the album. It has a clear African mood. The song develops into various interesting changes. It isn’t just its percussive sentiment, but a cyclical vibe that evokes legendary Weather Report thanks to Donny McCaslin’s sax and Leo’s keys. The voices of Heedi Rondón and Lionel Louke give that tinge of the black continent necessary to recreate those exotic landscapes.
The ending track, “Venezuelan Rhapsody”, is another interesting piece that seeks deep into the heart of the composer. It is that vivid heritage that with no doubt merges from the pianist uncanny playing that reflects his jazz knowledge as well as the rhythmical patterns of his native land.



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