Saturday, October 11, 2008

Steve Berrios Y Son Bacheche - "First World" (Milestone MCD-9234-2)

If you have checked out "Sentimiento Manana" than you know that I will at times submit posts highlighting particular albums that stand out in the world of rumba and percussion. Well, I wanted to continue that here at Street Level, but with a focus more on the "Latin Jazz" side of things. I think its only right that I start by profiling "First World" by Steve Berrios & Son Bacheche.

Steve Berrios first album is as honest as it gets. Straight ahead jazz, rumba, guiro, palo, all come together to somehow form an album as cohesive as it is different. It is as if Steve's various moods were somehow sonicly captured and produced for our listening pleasure. But enough with the abstract thought, let's get down to the nitty gritty.

First World starts out with "Mafranbingo", a great straight ahead Joe Ford arrangement a la Fort Apache. "La Buena Noche Mi Ngo", a Palo tune with Pedro Morejon singing the gallo part and Eddie Bobe and Steve on coro. "Once I Loved", is a great vocal jazz tune, which is followed by "El Nino Rey", a standard in the world of rumba which features the voice of Eddie Bobe and Julito Collazo on Iya. "Talkin' to Myself", is basically Steve conversing with himself through various percussion instruments. "Iremowire", a guiro with Julito Collazo serving as akpwon and playing agbe. "Uranus" is another great tune which fluctuates between straight ahead jazz and rumba, the pianist is not listed but I'd bet money that Larry Willis is at the helm on this one. "Brushin It" is another Steve solo tune, but this time on 3 snare drums and brushes. "Once in a While", a bolero features Freddy Cole on vocals. "Alamofije" a columbia with the late great Julito on lead vocals features Steve on quinto and Eddie Bobe on tres dos. "Deja Voodoo" is a short guiro interlude to "Dale" a rumba with Eddie Bobe on lead vocals and Papo Vasquez on trombone. "Lonely Woman/Acolona" is Ornette Coleman meets bata, with Julito on iya, Steve on itotele, Eddie Bobe on okonkolo, John Benitiez on bass, Eddie Henderson, Joe Ford, Peter Brainin, Papo Vazquez on horns. "Wild Is the Wind" another great smooth jazz tune features a great piano intro by Larry Willis. "Son Bacheche" ends the album with a short Comparsa Santiaguera.

As you can see this is not your typical "latin jazz" album but rather a day in the life of Steve Berrios, percussionist par excellence. Steve has played with the who's who, and can pretty much play everything in the world of latin and jazz percussion. He plays bata, rumba, classical percussion, traps, palo, guiro, brazilian, he even sings. Willie has played some Palo gigs with Steve and if I may quote him, "Steve can play more with one hand than most can play with two."

Do yourself a favor and get this cd. Price is no excuse since Amazon is selling this album so cheap that it can't be legal.

I am going to leave you with a Steve Berrios quote from an article that Eddie Bobe wrote for Descarga.

"Music for me is a life experience. It's not like I'm a musician at 9pm for the first set and when I get off the bandstand that's it. It's something you have to live while you're brushing your teeth or while you go pay your telephone bill." (Steve Berrios, 95')

(Steve, Photo Credit: Steve Berrios)

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