|Santiago Big Band
feat. Marcos Fernandez
Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
feat. Arturo O'Farrill
Santiago Brooklyn Santiago
Release Date: August 11, 2023
UPC Code: 880956230726
Selection #: ZM 202307
1. Piano Prelude 1:45
Arturo O’Farrill, Marcos Fernández
2. Cha 6:41
3. Almendra 4:28
4. Asia Minor 5:27
Roger King Mozian
5. Bilongo 4:24
Guillermo Rodríguez Fiffe
6. Pitbull Mambo 6:33
7. Ay, Mama 4:14
Ines L. Wolfe Gilbert, Lawrence Kempton, Eliseo Grenet
8. Iron Jungle 6:43
9. Dialogo 6:46
10. Crazy City (…But I Love It) 6:29
11. Santiago Brooklyn Santiago 5:11
Arturo O’Farrill, Marcos Fernández
12. El Manicero 5:02
The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra:
Larry Bustamante, Alejandro Aviles, Jasper Dutz, Adison Evans, Roman Filiu, Ivan Renta
Steven Bernstein, Seneca Black, Walter Cano, Bryan Davis, Kali Rodriguez-Pena, Rachel Therrien, Adam O’Farrill
Abdulrahman Amer, Mariel Bildsten, Rafi Malkiel, James Rogers, Earl McIntyre, Ben Barnett
Andrew Andron, Vince Cherico, Keisel Jimenez, Carlos Maldonado, Bam Rodriguez, Arturo O’Farrill
The Santiago Big Band (Cuba):
Marcos A. Fernández
Acoustic Bass, Bass Guitar:
José Ángel Martínez
Drums, Timbal, Güiro:
Angel "Caballito" Beltrán, Alain Gragoni, Raoni Sánchez
Iván Alejandron Sánchez Guardiola, Julio César, González Simón
Rey Amaury Burgos, Juan Chacón González, Goodridree Carbonilla (1)
Braudelis Rodríguez Sierra, Yormanys Soto Díaz (1)
Sergio Luna: Trombone, Jorge Ortega, Ismael Olivera(1), Andrés Arcia(1)
Jasiel Rodríguez, Ernesto Hernández: Requinto, Osiel Sauquet, Damián Busqueta
Soloists and Special Guests:
Eglis Ochoa (Cuba): Maracas
Jorge Manuel (Cuba): Bongo
Rafi Malkiel: Trombone Solo In "El Manisero", "Santiago-Brooklyn-Santiago"
Raoni Sánchez (Cuba): Trumpet Solo "El Manisero"
Alain Dragoni (Cuba): Trumpet Solo "El Manisero"
Rachel Therrien: Trumpet Solo "Santiago-Brooklyn-Santiago"
Iván Acosta (Cuba): Solo D Flute Bilongo"
Jasper Dutz: Clarinet Solo Almendra"
Fernando Dewar (Septeto Santiaguero) (Cuba): Tres "El Manisero", "Santiago-Brooklyn-Santiago"
Carlos Miyares (Cuba): Tenor Sax "Bilongo"
César López (Cuba): Soprano Sax “Diálogo"
Adam O’Farrill: Trumpet Solo “Dialogo”
I often refer to Brooklyn as the “People’s Republic of Brooklyn”. Of course, I don’t mean the “Urban Outfitters replacing bodegas” Brooklyn or the bougie neighborhoods where you must dodge Gucci clad finance/tech nerds too busy texting as they walk right into you.
No, there is a Brooklyn where young people of all races, genders, and identities begin their careers as rappers, writers, filmmakers, and the like. It’s a place of families of decades-long Brooklyn residency, discussing politics, Korean cinema, or the music of Conlon Nancarrow.
It’s a place where people don’t live on the 38th floor of an antiseptic floor to ceiling window monstrosity with green glass balconies that is indistinguishable from buildings anywhere there’s no architectural aesthetic. No, the real people of Brooklyn live in buildings with etched brick detailing and names like the “Cortelyou Arms”.
These are people with roots in the neighborhood and an affection for local culture, lore, and history. This is the Brooklyn I know as the People’s Republic.
There is another place where families aren’t pushed out by real estate developers and folks know their local culture, lore, and history. A place where buildings have etched brick detailing and names like “Casa Lescay”. A place where the arts are beloved, and the Corneta China leads throngs of revelers.
A place where young and old sit and discuss dialectical materialism, Mexican film noire, a place where music is in the bloodstream of every human being you meet. A place where young filmmakers, dancers, musicians, writers also begin their careers. A place where your soul is fed by knowledge, community and maduros.
Santiago is where I met the Master musician Marcos Fernández (also known as El Brujo Del Tumbao). I was there visiting Cuba for the second time (2002) and a wonderful soul named Ariana Hall was taking a group of us off the beaten path. We visited an encampment in the middle of the country where Haitian immigrants mixed Voodoo with Yoruba religious practice. We visited Guantanamo to experience La Tumba Francesa. We swam in the cool waters off Playa Siboney.
One day we visited a town called Palma Soriano and I met Marcos at his home. He had a piano and we immediately started playing for each other, together and in a round robin frenzy of pure music bonding. He also gave me a reading with the shells and told me stuff about myself that you could not possibly know unless you were me.
Often Santiago is called “the real Cuba”. This is probably because it is closer to Cuba’s African roots than Havana. The music here is profound and profoundly loved. This is the home of Son, and the practitioners are the originators. La Familia Varela, El Quarteto de Saxofon de Juan Chacon, La Conga de Los Hoyas, these are profoundly gifted, deeply rooted musicians with a command of the most authentic of Cuban musical languages. Rumba, Guaganco, Comparsa, Son, Cha Cha, Mambo, Timba, it’s all here and in its greatest expression. These are the waters in which Marcos swims and in which he excels even beyond what one could expect from a people that excel in all things artistic.
This record began as a phone conversation between Marcos and I in which we were looking for ways to collaborate, not an easy thing for two people who play the same instrument. The conversation got hot and heavy when we found ourselves both playing the inaugural Jazz Plaza Festival Santiago edition. Somehow, I was able to concoct a collaboration between the incredible Muñequitos de Matanzas and the beloved Conga de los Hoyas. The music exploded off the stage and onto the streets with hundreds dancing long into the night. Marcos and I shared musicians from of each of our groups and a true collaboration was given birth. Through a yearlong series of phone calls a plan was hatched.
During the height of the pandemic, Marcos and his musicians recorded in Santiago and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra recorded in their homes. Guest soloists from each group were featured in each other’s recordings and finally after many months a unique recording was produced.
The final piece of the puzzle was who would release it. This is where the most beautiful part of the story is told. A unique collaboration was created whereby Cuba’s most important label EGREM was partnered with ZOHO Music, arguably the most important American Latin Jazz label. The notion that an American company would partner with a Cuban company, and for cultural and artistic reasons cooperate in an unheard-of manner since the post Obama period, is simply a thing of great beauty. A thorough investigation of the legalities and compliance with OFAC regulations was enacted, and much to our delight (since there are no monies exchanged between the two countries) there is no law prohibiting the co-release of recorded material by an American and a Cuban label. The musicians all donated their time to this incredible act of cooperation between two supposedly “enemy “nations, and once again the dignity of music and the grace of generosity showed that love is bigger than politics and pettiness.
This is a historic first, and you, dear listener, have the opportunity to cast your vote in favor of tolerance and acceptance. To deny the politics of anti-engagement right wing extremists
who would choose to see the United Sates occupy yet another sovereign nation that doesn’t agree with its viewpoint. The shortcomings of the Cuban government pale with the radical divisions in our governance. Many speak of freedoms denied and the political imprisonment of those who speak their mind whilst ignoring the flagrant failures of predatory capitalism in its death throes. We have millions of Americans living in the streets, the continuing murder of young men of color by the police, mass murders by lone gunmen and congressional process ground to a halt by a political process shaped by partisan politics at the behest of corporate and individual wealth. To compare Cuban shortcomings with the horrifying realities of the American profit machine is a soulless exercise in justifying corrupt moral values.
This recording is a statement of faith in the beauty of both nations and their differing political ideologies guided by the hope that the United States would finally accept what most of the world has realized and continues to vote for in the United Nations, the unilateral dismembering of the economic embargo and the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba with a view towards normalizing and eventually entering into dialogue with a peoples whose music, and culture are as big as the sun.
Produced by: Arturo O’Farrill, Marcos Fernández, Kabir Sehgal, Doug Davis, Paul Avgerinos. Santiago Big Band recorded at Siboney Studios In Santiago De Cuba, Studios 18 Egrem, and PM Records, Havana, Cuba in 2022. Engineer: Máximo Espinosa Rossel. Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra recorded remotely at the homes of the members of the Orchestra, in 2022. Mixed and mastering by: Peter Karl. Photography: Alejandro Azcuy. Art direction and package design by: Al Gold. Executive produced by: Heydi Gonzalez Valdés, Joachim “Jochen” Becker and Chris Escobar.
Arturo O'Farrill is a Steinway Artist. www.steinway.com