PLATTSBURGH — Savor summer with “Salsa Nortena,” the newest CD by composer/trombonist Rick Davies.
The release party is tonight at the FlynnSpace with Jazzismo, a Latin dance led by Davies, and guest artist, Arturo O’Farrill, a Grammy Award-winning pianist. The ensemble performs a mix of songs, including instrumental tracks from the CD.
JAMMED WITH TALENT
“Salsa Nortena” features eight tantalizing Latin grooves by Davies, a fixture in the New York City Latin scene for decades and a professor of music at Plattsburgh State. His lyricist/colleague Fernando Iturburu wrote seven of the songs and co-wrote “Lady K” with Jorge “Papo” Ross. Ross is lead vocalist on tracks “Baile De Amor,” “El Hombre de Panama,” “Requiem Por Un Amigo” and “Lady K.”
“It took awhile,” said Davies about the project. “We started last summer. Most of it, I did in Montreal. It’s like two different sessions. The Montreal one was done in the fall with all the musicians. The Burlington one was done in January. I brought the engineer, Ricky Campanelli (Sound Trip Recording Studio), down from Montreal and the percussionists, Jonathan Maldonado and Neville “Pichi” Ainsley. They both are from Venezuela. They’re the only ones on every cut. Ricky was nominated for a Latin Grammy for engineer.”
The Montreal group included Ross (lead vocals, alto saxophone, chorus), Eduardo Sanchez (trumpet), Kuki Carbucia (piano), Edward Maldonado (bass), Ainsley (congas), Jonathan Maldonado (drums), Rosa Ramirez (chorus) and Alejandro Torrens (chorus).
The Vermont personnel were Alex Stewart (tenor saxophone), Ray Vega (trumpet), Tom Cleary (piano) and John Rivers (bass).
“Alex (Stewart), Tom (Cleary) and John (Rivers) all teach at UVM. The vocal stuff was done in Montreal with Papo Ross. Then, we did the instrumental stuff later. It took a month to mix and master it,” Davies said.
“Baile de Amor” (The Dance of Love), featuring Ross, sets the sleek tone for “Salsa Nortena,” the perfect summer disc, hot-hot-hot throughout.
“Fernando (Iturburu) is a poet from Ecuador. I write the music first. I give it to him. He always comes up with two or three sets of lyrics. He’s very fast. We talk concepts. I said, ‘This (salsa ballad) sounds nice, romantic and not too serious,’” Davies said.
“Campamento de Rumba” references the Latin jazz camp Davies runs each July at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. The track is based on the rumba clave and features solos by Vega, Stewart and Cleary.
Davies pays homage to Ruben Blades with “El Hombre de Panama.”
“He’s a Latin singer and a movie star, too. He’s a great character actor. He ran for president. Everybody loves Ruben (Blades). It’s an instrumental featuring Ray Vega,” Davies said.
Though musically it’s not Thelonius Monk, Davies’s “Bembe Swing” is named after the legendary pianist “Bemsha Swing.” Inspired by the Cuban bembe, the track features a flugelhorn solo by Vega.
“It’s the last thing I wrote for the last session,” Davies said. “It’s a 6/8 rhythm. It comes out of the religious movement.”
“Requiem Por Un Amigo” (Requiem For A Friend) is about life and death in the barrio.
“That’s the one more political than any of them,” Davies said. “Papo (Ross) sounds real street on that. I’ve known him for 10 years. He’s the best salsa singer. He’s Dominican. He has a handle on salsa. He helped me. I put him down as associate producer. He found the musicians.They were all recommended by him.”
“Lady K” is a bolero dedicated to Karen Hildebrand, Davies’s wife.
“It was a little too corny for her,” Davies said.
“Vega Para Ti” (Vega for You) is dedicated to Vega.
“He was our first guest artist to come up to the camp. I’ve known him now for 30 years,” Davies said.
The final sizzling track, “Son, Son, Son,” riffs Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing.” In Cuba, son is sound and fuses Spanish cancion, Spanish guitar with African polyrhythm.
“The tune has five million different names,” Davies said. “Fernando (Iturburu) wrote some lyrics to it. It’s instrumental on the CD. It’s basic Cuban-style son.”
The CD’s artwork and design was also done by Torrens. Photographs are by Laura Carbone.
“Alejandro (Torrens) is Dominican. He’s the vocalist for Grupa Sabor. The biggest thing, he’s a graphic artist. His oil painting is on the cover. He scanned it in. I like it. I’m buying it from him,” Davies said.
‘BEST’ ALBUM YET
Davies is eager to play with O’Farrill tonight.
“He won a Grammy two yeas ago. He led the Lincoln Center Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra,” he said. “They’re at Symphony Space now. His father was the legendary Chico O’Farrill.”
“Salsa Nortena” was also engineered by Lane Gibson of Lane Gibson Recording and Mastering in Charlotte, Vt. Associate producers were Ross and Campanelli.
“It’s my third album,” said Davies, executive producer. “I think it’s the best. It’s real consistent.”
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IF YOU GO
WHAT: “Salsa Nortena” CD release party.
WHO: Rick Davies and Jazzismo with guest artist, Arturo O’Farrill.
WHEN: 7:30 tonight.
WHERE: FlynnSpace, 153 Main St., Burlington, Vt.
ADMISSION: $19 adults, $15 students.
CONTACT: (802) 86-FLYNN.