“Bona Makes You Sweat – LIVE”
This new live release really showcases what I love about this band. It’s about as good as a band can get (I’m a particularly big fan of drummer Ernesto Simpson and percussionist Samuel Torres). Recorded live in Budapest in 2007, this concert features material from the entire Bona discography as well as a few dips into music from his history with the Zawinul Syndicate & Steps Ahead. The recording is perfect… it feels live but it is also crystal clear and nothing gets lost. Anybody who knows about this rhythm section knows that this band contains some of the top latin guys in NYC, so it’ll be no surprise to hear some world class Afro-Cuban grooves in the midst of Bona’s signature voice and groove-jazz compositions. After I had listened to the CD all the way through (not something I can often do in one sitting.. says a LOT!) I realized, “huh…. no bass solos!”. I admire that in guys like this… Bona may be known for his blazing work in other bands, but those that have seen his band live know that the focus is on the music and performance. The only solo track is that of Richard using a looper and his voice and it is pretty amazing. The band is tight and the music is fun. I always love seeing these guys play and this disc finally captures the magic for those of us who haven’t been lucky enough to catch him on his occasional tours of the US. I do wish there was a tad more raw “going for it” type playing on here, tho. The band is comprised of some of the best players out there and it does sound a bit too clean and safe to me, possibly because I’ve heard many of these guys in other settings where they let loose and, believe me, these guys can unleash a musical fury when prompted, but here, it is more about group cohesion. I can’t help but wonder if it is a conscious attempt to not go over people’s heads, but honestly, most of the people that are aware of Richard Bona are musicians anyway… Maybe he’s trying to change that! Regardless, this album will appeal to players and listeners alike. Great show Richard!