Heritage by Silvestre Martinez, a Review by Raul Amador
When the Spaniards (and other Europeans) came to the “ New World” (the Americas), they brought African slaves with them. The terrible reality of slavery in itself being inexcusable, there is one area where we have benefitted immensely. The cultural and musical influence that these Africans brought with them has greatly enriched our own contemporary music and culture; I want to focus on the Afro-Antillean or Afro-Cuban music genre. “Heritage” by percussionist Silvestre Martinez is a prime example of this legacy being alive and well! I find it interesting that this musical style reached to the west coast of Mexico (Oxaca) from where Silvestre hails Strong African elements such as percussion, vocal patterns and the structure of each piece lay down the foundation for the rest of the instruments to build upon. Articulate woodwinds and intricate keyboard work ads color to most of the CD. Featured players include Pianists Hector Martignon & Coto Pincheira, Antonio Sanchez, Alan Hall, and Colin Douglas on drums, Sheldon Brown and Eric Crystal on Sax, Erik Jekabson on trumpet. Solid Bass playing from Sam Bevan completes the complex, syncopated rhythms. The key here is the percussive “machine” (Major and minor percussion) that gives us the distinctive Latin Jazz/ world music experience.
As is many times the case, I would have liked to have heard more of the Bass in these tunes (volume and tone) but I also grasp that the “space” between the notes is critical to the overall effect. Maybe someday we can convince the sound engineers to allow the bass to shine through when soloing. I really want to hear what they have to say!
The CD kicks off with a bang with “Ishe Olu Wah”. The lone conga opens and the momentum builds as the voices and instruments join in. Classic afro-cuban time signature and syncopation blend so that you can imagine that you have a foot on two continents spanning the Atlantic. Very Juicy!
“Reaction” starts up with the lone bass and the very tight percussion sets the tempos as we travel along with the sax driven melody. Here is where contemporary Jazz meets Latin Jazz.
“El Feo “ and “Sabra Dios” showcase Silvestre’s vocal soloist talents. Both pieces are very unique in style and delivery. The first reminds me of a Mexican folksong where the second is a nice “Bolero” to dance the night away to.
“Rumba Puerto Angel” pays homage to Silvestre’s hometown on the Mexican coast. This song is a very nice way to pay tribute to a place that he remembers fondly and misses. This piece paints a musical picture of his past. “Nunca te olvidare” means “I will never forget you (Just thought you would like to know). This tune is where the percussion has a chance to show its stuff! Impressive!
Latin Jazz/ World music your thing? Check this one out!