Monthly Archives: April 2015

REBEL TUMBAO – A Collaborative Call to Consciousness En Clave (Sacred Rhythm Music, 2015


Rebel\ ‘rebel 1a: to oppose those in authority who do not act in the best interest of humankind.

Tumbao\ toóm-‘Bah-o (Spanish) 1a: a syncopated bass and conga rhythm that makes you want to groove your ass off.

Musical Director, multi-percussionist, composer and spoken word artist, José Claussell fulfills a vision and breaches a new musical dimension and an organic concept of rhythmic diversity with his new CD, Rebel Tumbao.

Born with the gift of expressing rhythm and nurtured with a mind-blowing array of musical influences that span the global soundscape, José is a performer celebrated for his dynamic, spiritual and unique style of drumming and approach to music.

Like the current residence of the author of this review, the genesis of his musical journey can be traced back to his Brooklyn roots and a brownstone that was affectionately called “The mad house of music”.

In 1989 Eddie Palmieri invited José to join his band and catapulted him to the major eddie-palmieri
stages and clubs of the world, which led to recording and performance appearances with major artists such as, Ray Barretto, Richie Havens, Randy Weston, Donald Harrison, La India, Little Louie Vega, the Frank Sinatra Orchestra, Victor Manuelle, Tony Toni Tone, Chico Freeman, Hilton Ruiz and many more.

José has recorded seven productions with Mr. Palmieri, three of which received Grammy nominations as well as, Masterpiece, Palmieri’s collaboration with Tito Puente that won the award for best Salsa album in 2000. In conclusion, his musical mileage establishes a credibility we must tip our hats to.

Enter Rebel Tumbao – a culmination of a journey that began in 2002. The awareness invoking self-titled debut delivers a collaborative call to consciousness with 61ABfglclvLAFRO LATIN ROOTS MUSIC, where bilingual Spanish/Anglophonic spirit-filled Afro-Diasporic traditions blend with compatible chemistry.

The title sets up listeners with non-conformist creativity and unpredictable surprises that will sync with many, inter-generationally. The foundation of this unique sound is led by the masterful Claussell, who seems to have been reading the pulse of the sleeping giant, where a demand for a refreshing composite sound has been brewing.

The CD revisits a classic theme of blending respected genres from the firm foundation of old school jazz-tinged NuYoRicanized Salsa Dura (Cosmopolitized New York-based First thru third generation Puerto Ricans and their descendants that upgraded Afro-Cuban root music to match an urban aesthetic) with Jamaican Reggae vis a vis Bob Marley and gospelized soul-stirring R&B.

Each track is garnished with unexpected flavors from Boricua Isleño sonero lead coros(Island based Puerto Rican lead vocalist lead call and response), Doo Wop harmonizing and accents from diaspora Yoruba devotional chants to Colombian Cumbia licks and more.

From the outset and throughout all ten plus bonus tracks, the listener is prepared for a musical journey as lead vocalist, Toussaint’s husky, resonant tenor, delivers with a depth of soul and musical influences that range a vocal spectrum. In complementary fashion, on bilingual tracks, soneros (vocalists) Herman Olivera and Marco Bermudez deliver criollo(Creolized) authenticity supported by a genuine down home coro sabroso (flavorful / soulful chorus) calling for pro-active compassion to the human condition. Be encouraged to listen carefully to receive those heartfelt messages.

Diverse, seductive heartthrob montunos (soulful vamps) are, at times haunting with minor chords accented by fellow CD producer keyboardist, Matt Jenson’s in-the-pocket groove, Clausell’s precision timbale work, hyper-bongo and crisp Bata work by Anthony Carrillo, soul-stirring trombone work by Angel Subero Squantch and Scott Flynn. Let the lyrics push the listener to reflect.

Worthy of repetition, Claussell is a graduate of the exclusive school Maestro Eddie PalmieriHarlem-River-Drive-Featured-Image(1989-2013), who’s recordings of Harlem River Drive (1971), Vamonos Pa’l Monte (1971) and the earlier La Perfecta era signature style (1962-1968) influenced his musicality and served as his call to consciousness.

And that my friends is La Arma Secreta (The Secret Weapon) throughout the CD: Palmieri’s old school La Perfecta technique of La Clave aguanta’o (restrained / reigned in) where the natural tendency to speed up the meter is suppressed as if dragging the tempo. This deliberate slowing time and widening sonic spaces magically allows both dancer and the listener to savor every syncopated note and rhythmic lick. This effective and time-honored technique makes every track rock smooth and groove, honey coating the listener with its enduring harmonic, rhythmic essence. Don’t take my word for it. Test it yourself. (See link below).

While reflecting on the earthy, lyrical commentary citing the enigmas of the human condition, the listener receives inspiration, move, and groove. Indeed, even Mother Earth is listening and rejoicing.



rebel tumbao back 3










Thanks to  Tomas  Peña Founder / Editor of JazzDeLaPena  for inviting me to review this CD. I encourage everyone to visit his website to learn about some of the best musicians on the planet:





Reflections Prior to Spring 2015

Spring 2015 is 3  weeks away.   We all need a “reboot”………..In the Americas– especially Northeast USA, a “reboot” refresher is necessary!  Frigid winter weather seems to be unprecedent and is record breaking.  Climate change is real.That is another topic!  However, let’s get back to “reboot”……

yes — “reboot”  — I keep repeating it!  …..where are my /’ your reset buttons?  What plug do I pull out then replug in?  Why do I use tech analogies for us as humans?  LOL…..because we’re really plugged in and looking at our screens of all sizes!  and maybe an upgrade….personally and not your desktop / laotip / smart device!  We as humans need upgrades!


……….and reflect a minute or two.


Latin on Lex Jazz Fest: New Cuban New York – A Confluence of Cultures Converge in the Big Apple By Antonio Mondesire – Mar 28, 2015

Day 2 of the 92nd Street Y’s Latin on Lex series celebrated “a snapshot of a musical movement that could only have taken place in New York City,” says Artistic Director, Brian Lynch.

The event featured Grammy nominees, Yosvany Terry, Pedro “Pedrito” Martinez and Manuel Valera, who among others made the pilgrimage to New York, remained, and enriched the musical life of the Jazz Mecca as performers, composers and bandleaders.

The performance was inspired by Lynch’s involvement with the players since their arrival in New York approximately 20 years ago. According to Lynch, “I’m proud of any modest ‘cross-pollinating’ role I may have played in working alongside these phenomenal musicians in both my groups and their own.”

The repertoire included nine original compositions: Dance the Way You Want To; Noticiero; Story Teller; Keep Talking; Aw Shucks; La Gloria Eres Tú; Harlem Matinee; Summer Relief and Descargando.

Highlights included crisp, sophisticated, grounded “en clave” trumpet work by Brian Lynch; admirable improvisations and use of harmonics by Lynch, Terry and Greg Tardy’s brass and reeds; Manuel Valera’s superb piano flows, Pedrito Martinez’s Abakua recitation and chants; the multi-talented Yosvany Terry, who effortlessly toggled (played) between the saxophone and the shekere without missing a beat; soothing acoustic work by bassist Hans Glawischnig and hyper-fluent trap work by Haitian drummer, Obed Calvaire.

At the pre-concert discussion, Brian Lynch discussed the underlying philosophy of Afro-Atlantic religious traditions, such as Yoruba and Lukumi, the links between Afro-Cuban Jazz and Afro-Caribbean jazz and their ability to evoke a state of being that touches the heart, body and mind. Above all, he explained why these musicians and their music have become an indispensable part of the New York jazz scene and modern jazz in the 21st century.

Kudos to the 92nd Street Y for giving the series a home and the Kaufmann Concert Hall for an earthy, organic audio experience. I look forward to Latin on Lex becoming a yearly event.


Personnel: Brian Lynch: trumpet, Yosvany Terry: alto sax and shekere; Gregory Tardy, tenor sax and clarinet; Manuel Valera, piano: Pedrito Martinez, percussion and vocal; Hans Glawischnig, acoustic bass Obed Calvaire: drums.

The original articles including a variety of photographs are available on  JazzDelaPena and LatinJazzNetwork