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Cuban Jazz Train, as the short note suggests, attempts to redefine the relationship between the Afro-Cuban idiom and its doppelgänger – Jazz. Both come from the same root, and both are born of African polyrhythm. One is Spanish-inflected and the other is blues-inflected. And when you combine the two you get almost the same result. So in the hypothesis of Cuban Jazz Train, the musics are contiguous. While this may be so, the clave of Afro-Cuban music makes it distinct from the altered fifths of Jazz. And yet it can be – magically – combined to make both music’s stronger. Even the AACM found this to be so when Art “Turk” Burton melded his congas with Henry Threadgill and the other musicians of that forward-thinking group of musicians.

That, of course, is not the only reason for the album. The repertoire is smartly laid out so that the energy of the record winds up like a coiled spring when the first beats are sounded and continues until the penultimate “Descarga,” that proverbial Cuban Jam that made its first appearance under the watchful eye of Cachao. Here these young musicians, mentored by the experienced Calixto Oviedo turn out the music of their lives. And what spectacular music it is. I would be remiss if I did not also mention that the ballad with Lily Hernández on vocals is played and sung with balletic grace; a perfect song to temper the heat of the rest of the music of this beautiful record.

This is exactly how you would expect Afro-Cuban music to sound in this day and age; romantic but without an ounce of sentimentality, which, sadly, is the road that many Latin American artists go down. Either that or they try and reinvent the idiom, both of which seem to dilute the tradition to the extent that it turns into something not remotely like what it was intended to sound like. There is, however, nothing wrong with making the music danceable, but when the musicians (and I shall not name names) get too cute.

Latin Jazz News (LIN) Canadian Editor

 

"Drummer/percussionist Calixto Oviedo and his Cuban Jazz Train, a creative group of musicians who provide a masterful job of interpreting the Latin sound, deliver an excellent release of Latin jazz material on their new "Como Suena," complete with exciting new and vibrant compositions that gyrate all over. This album is a percussive delight guaranteed to generate more than a passing interest from lovers of the genre, well done!"

Edward Blanco All About Jazz and Host of "Jazz Café," at WDNA, 88.9FM,  Miami, Fl

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