Aguanko, Unidad Review
Aguanko, Unidad Review
Alberto Nacif’s latest offering with Aguanko, Unidad, is an outstanding journey in world music with a focus on Latin Jazz, blending the rich textures of Afro-Cuban rhythms with modern jazz and world sensibilities. Born from Nacif’s diverse musical background and his profound understanding of Cuban percussion traditions, this album is a collection of songs that celebrates world music and cultural fusion.
The album opens with “Kintsugi,” a track that immediately immerses the listener in the world of Mambo. The clave’s rhythm sets a foundational pulse, over which a syncopated piano and bass figure weave a complex rhythmic tapestry. Nacif’s percussion is both precise and dynamic, interacting seamlessly with the ensemble while providing a robust undercurrent. The montuno section, led by Nacif, Roe, Prouty, and Espinosa, showcases the ensemble’s synergy, creating an environment where individual brilliance shines within a cohesive group dynamic. The trombone work by Smith is particularly notable, leading into Roe’s fluid piano solo. Nacif’s own solo is melodic and evocative, compelling even the most reluctant listener to dance. The track demonstrates the ensemble’s chemistry and joy in their collaborative effort.
“Discurso,” a Cha Cha Cha piece, shifts the mood to a more relaxed and sensual realm. The call and response between the horns and Roe’s piano exemplifies the dynamic interplay central to Latin music. Miller’s saxophone solo, building to an emotional climax, and Smith’s stirring trombone solo add layers of depth and emotion. The clarity of the montuno pattern, maintained by Prouty and Roe, provides a stable harmonic foundation, allowing Nacif and Espinosa to embellish with rhythmically intricate Cha Cha Cha fills. Roe’s piano solo stands out for its activity and emotive quality, underlining the track’s romantic essence. “Discurso” encapsulates the sensual and inviting nature of well-executed Cuban music, making it relatable and enjoyable to a wide audience.
Throughout Unidad, Aguanko showcases the ensemble’s technical proficiency and their deep connection to the cultural and emotional roots of the music they play. Each track is a journey through different aspects of world and Latin Jazz, with Nacif’s percussion work serving as both a guide and a highlight. Aguanko’s ability to fuse traditional rhythms with contemporary world and jazz elements is something that is authentic and innovative.
September 8, 2023