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The Afro-Caribbean Jazz Collective : Fiesta at Caroga Review

The Afro-Caribbean Jazz Collective : Fiesta at Caroga Review

The-Afro-Caribbean-Jazz-Collective-CDIn world music, the fusion of traditional forms with contemporary sounds often results in a sound rich in heritage and expression. Fiesta at Caroga, the latest offering from The Afro-Caribbean Jazz Collective, is a vibrant program of this synthesis, marrying the rhythms and textures of Afro-Caribbean music with the expansive possibilities of world music. Under the leadership of guitarist Jose Guzman, this octahedron ensemble embarks on a celebratory journey that is sure to get your blood and feet moving.

The album starts with “Descarga 2,” a track that sets the tone with its robust Afro-Caribbean salsa feel. The percussive ensemble, consisting of Stephen Busath on congas, Sebastian Nassar on timbales, and Brian Shank on percussion, lays down a foundational groove that is energetic as Guzman’s guitar emerges with an intriguing chordal figure. Guzman is a vital voice within this rhythmic tapestry, blending seamlessly with the three horns to create a beautiful groove. The bass lines provided by Ian Stewart are clear in their propulsion and harmony, driving the song forward with an unwavering salsa pattern.

With “Xipirona Cha Cha,” the Collective delves into the lighter, airier side of the Cha Cha salsa form, showcasing Guzman’s skillful blending of salsa and jazz guitar techniques. The trombone and trumpet solos by Ben Weisger and Eric Devey are engaging with their fluidity in combining salsa, jazz, and blues into a perfect storytelling series of solos. Their solos, supported by the complementary horn backgrounds and the rhythm section’s infectious groove, transform this piece into a journey through musical storytelling. Guzman’s montuno figures carve a space for the percussionists to shine, demonstrating the ensemble’s cohesive interplay before the melody gracefully returns for a final bow. This track is not merely a pleasure to the ears but an invitation to the dance floor, showcasing the ensemble’s ability to create a multifaceted musical experience.

“El Cañaveral” transports the listener to a different realm, evoking the mystical allure of coastal sugar cane fields through a bembe groove and a thoughtful arrangement of sparse percussion. The track’s melody unfolds gradually, crossing various tempos and textures, and showcases the ensemble’s skill in navigating the complex landscape of Afro-Caribbean rhythms. The horn soli, with its exceptional execution flows into graceful counterpoint, adding layers of complexity and enhancing the track’s rich musical textures. Stark’s tenor saxophone solo emerges with energy and finesse, perfectly matching the percussionists’ accents and rhythms. Guzman’s accompaniment is notable for its versatility, shifting from jazz-inspired comping to fluid montunos with ease, further enriching the track’s sonic palette.

These pieces exemplify the Afro-Caribbean Jazz Collective’s ability to weave individual talents into a cohesive and compelling narrative, making Fiesta at Caroga an album that invites listeners on a journey through the rich landscapes of Afro-Caribbean and world music, expertly crafted by musicians who are passionate storytellers at heart. Through their expert musicianship, innovative compositions, and deep respect for the forms they draw from, the Collective offers an enriching and exhilarating listening experience.


The Afro-Caribbean Jazz Collective: Website

Artist Name

The Afro-Caribbean Jazz Collective

Album Title

Fiesta at Caroga

Release Date

May 5, 2023



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