Conga Buena Sets Ears on Fire

  • 09/26/2013
  • Terelle Jerricks

By Melina Paris, Music Columnist

AC Jazz Project’s latest CD with their new bandleader, Josiel Perez Hernandez, is on fire.

On Conga Buena, Josiel shows off just how good a fit he is with this Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble. The band will host a CD release party at the Catalina Jazz Club on Sept. 26 which is sure to be an exciting and intoxicating evening of impeccable musicianship.

congabuenacoverComprised of musicians from Maraca, Grupo Afro-Cuba, NG La Banda, Cuba L.A. and Opus 13, AC Jazz Project blends jazz improvisations with Afro-Cuban music genres (rumba, folklore, danzon, cha cha cha, mambo, son and timba). The multi-talented Josiel adds his mastery of contemporary Cuban and Afro-Cuban music, jazz, bebop, classical, funk, rhythm and blues, and soul to the group. Josiel wrote most of AC Jazz Projects music on this latest CD.

To pull this CD together, the project got the phenomenal Cuban percussionist Luis Conte in on this project. He has worked with almost everyone in the music business from Madonna to Phil Collins.

Kamasi Washington (Chaka Kahn, Stanley Clark), followed. The project’s drummer, Jimmy Branly offered his studio for the band to record. Jimmy Branly is an amazing drummer, one of the biggest. He made history in Cuba playing jazz and bebop. He’s one of the creators of timba. He is credited with keeping Cuban music alive in United States. Josiel describes the role of the trumpet and flugelhorn as both playing an important role in Cuban jazz and in Cuban popular music.

“The trumpet is considered a lead instrument in Cuba and it is more aggressive in Cuban Jazz,” Josiel said. “The flugelhorn is more about feeling, like when it is played in our song, ‘Homenaje a Juanito’ for example.”

“Homenaje a Juanito” is an elegant number. Josiel’s rich sounding trumpet playing at a slow pace is soothing, giving the track a sense of an unfolding story. Their number, “Sunlight” features a seamless mixture of staccato and long melodious trumpet playing that take the listener on an imaginative journey. AC Jazz Project has a sophisticated sound amidst the high energy and power.

“Solo Mi Arte” is one example with its powerful congas and piano playing, passionate vocals and horns. This is one track that will make you move. Josiel Perez continues the legacy of AC jazz Projects former leader, Juan “Long John” Oliva, inheritor of Afro-Cuban rhythms legend and Oliva’s father, Pancho Quinto.

With his education background in rumba and folklore, Juan’s vision was to fuse different types of music with his extensive knowledge of Cuban rhythms. Josiel’s vision is very similar to Juan’s vision. This is shown in the composition “Conga Buena,” which demonstrates how open Latin jazz is when it fuses Conga Santiaguera and Contemporary Jazz.

AC Jazz Project performs at the Catalina Bar & Grill, at 8:30 p.m. Sept. 26. Purchase the CD at
Details: (323) 466-2210;
Venue: Catalina Bar & Grill
Location: 6725 W. Sunset Blvd. Hollywood

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