Released December 14, 2004
Grammy Nominee for Best Latin Jazz Album 2005
Rafael Cruz has the hands of a teacher. More than simply an expert in the field, Rafael also burns with the inner passion that elevates the mere craft in true art.
While in the studio cutting the basic tracks for the CD they now have, after the microphones were established, after the levels were up on the control board, after all the technical components were in place, Rafael urged his musicians towards a higher purpose. This was no longer simply a matter of well-developed material execution worked on countless nights at the music kiosk. This is about sharing a vision, creating a moment. It was about making art.
Music has the power to transcend universal language and communication at the most emotional level. Rafael knows very well and wishes to share his musical inspiration with all his bandmates in order to literally reach everyone for the listeners of this music.
It makes perfect sense to Rafael. All you have to do is look at your vast collection of percussion instruments across the planet. Each of these instruments comes from a different tradition. Each one is used to play different rhythms for different social functions. In the hands of a teacher qualified as Rafael, who makes us realize that we are a single human family. He longs for us to be united in rhythm and sound.
And he has done just that. Witness, for example, the old batá master of Cuba Orlando “Puntilla” Ríos singing in Nigeria’s Yoruba language about “Africa’s Children”. Puntilla has played with everyone of importance in Latin jazz and is the founder of the Cuban Center of Floklorica Music. On this subject Rafael joins the old musical traditions with modern times, synthesizers and everything. The results are nothing short of impressive.
Rafael also enlists the talent of Cuban Rumba maestro David Oquendo in “La Rumba”. Oquendo is world famous as an interpreter and teacher of traditional Cuban music and culture. “La Rumba” is the genuine article, composed only of rhythms and voices of call and response, as practiced in the poorest neighborhoods of Havana.
Mixed with the traditional are modern masters such as soloist and former Miles Davis, saxophonist Rick Margitza, Spyro Gyra guitarist Julio Fernández, and rising keyboard stars Luis Perdomo. Rafael’s vision has been encouraged and developed by all the great artists who collaborate in this recording. It is a “gumbo that can only be created by traveling the world and bringing home ingredients to New York.
This CD comes in second from Rafael as a band leader after a life of music creation with the world elite of Latin, jazz and pop music: Flora Purim and Airto, Astrud Gilberto, the Brecker brothers, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Mann, Joe Sample, Chaka Khan, George Benson, Dr. John. The list is endless and very impressive.
But today is Rafael’s day. These are his rhythms. This is his passion. “Speak, Raffi!”
1. Sideways Cha Cha 3:11
2. Bachi 4:31
3. Africa’s Children 5:15
4. All the Things You Are 5:11
5. K.K. 6:20
6. So What 5:50
7. Face Dance 5:20
8. Samba de Sandra 5:35
9. Cocinando 3:47
10. La Rumba 3:20
Raphael Cruz: percussion, vocals
Richie Gonzalez: drums
Luis Perdomo: piano
Alan Markel: bass (2, 3, 4, 8, 9)
With special guests:
“Puntilla” Rios: vocals, bata drum
Edwardo “Roman” Diaz: vocals, bata drum
David Oquendo: lead vocal, três dos & chekere (10)
Chico Álvarez: vocals, clave (10)
Arencibia: vocals, gua gua (10)
Rick Margitza: saxophone (1, 4)
Julio Fernandez: guitar (8)
Ivan Bodley: bass (6)
Mark Saunders: bongo (1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7)
Rick Whittington: violin
Jerome Sabbagh: saxophone (5)
Martin Arroyo: keyboards (3, 5, 7, 8, 9)
Toshi Simeya: bass (1, 4, 7) Robert Siebert: piano, Fender Rhodes (8)
Africa’s Children Chorus, conducted by Ruben Perez and Carlos F. Cordova: Luna Cruz; Shakyra Cancel; Alicia Gaines; Jussttinn Coleman; Roberto Cordova; Veronica Perez; Daurah Rodriguez;
Recorded by Sal Mormando, at Iwii Studios, and Luis Damian Güell, at Digital Boulevard Audio
Produced by Luis Damian Güell
Arranged by Raphael Cruz
Mixed by Kurt Upper
Percussionist/vocalist Raphael Cruz has made a true world-music record with BEBOP TIMBA. Steeped in the Latin-jazz tradition, Cruz draws on numerous forms from the genre, including classic salsa rhythms, but infuses these with a progressive, globally aware sensibility that incorporates everything from ancient African song to jazz fusion. The personnel on BEBOP TIMBA, which includes Spyro Gyra guitarist Julio Fernandez, Cuban bata master Orlando “Puntilla” Rios, and former Miles Davis saxophonist Rick Margitza, reflects the album’s mix-and-match, all-inclusive aesthetic.
The program also reflects Cruz’s mission to unite disparate influences, eras, and nationalities in rhythm and song. “Africa’s Children,” written by Cruz, has a youthful choir singing lyrics in Yoruba over tribal drums, but with synthesizer adding futuristic color. A Latin-inspired cover of Hammerstein/Kern ‘s “All the Things You Are” keeps one foot firmly in the standard jazz songbook, while a treatment of Pat Metheny’s “Face Dance” brings Cruz into the world of fusion. The last track, “La Rumba,” which features only drums and call-and-response voices, brings BEBOP TIMBA back to the roots of Cruz’s wide-reaching musical tree.