1. AMARE 7:19
2. IN G 5:24
3. KISS 4:41
4. GUAJIRA 5:57
5. MOFONGO 8:42
6. CAZÓN 4:20
7. ZAPATEAO 5:43
8. MOLIENDO CAFÉ 5:28
9. UNTRAVELED 3:57
Alí Bello - violin (acoustic, electric & baritone), palmas & minor percussion
Luis Perdomo - piano # 2, 5 & 8
Juancho Herrera - guitars, cuatro & bandola #1, 3 & 6
Javier Olivencia - tenor & soprano sax #1 & 6
Raul Agraz - flugelhorn & trumpet #5
Álvaro Benavides - bass guitar #1, 3 & 6
Luques Curtis - upright bass #2 & 5
Neil Ochoa - quitiplás & culo‘e puyas #1 & 6
Willie Martínez - drum set & güiro #2 & 5
Leonardo Granados - maracas & voice #7 & 10
Pedro Cortés - acoustic guitar # 4 & 7
Sean Kupisz - bass guitar #4 & 7
José Moreno - cajón, palmas & percussion #3, 4 & 7
Venezuelan born Alí Bello has become one of the most versatile and sought after violinists on the New York scene. He has distinguished himself with his versatility in different Latin and jazz music styles in addition to his well-founded classical training and multidimensional improvisational skills. Alí began his music training in El Sistema - the National System of Youth Orchestras of Venezuela, in his native country. His music education was guided by great figures of the Venezuelan music stage, including José Antonio Abreu, creator and founder of El Sistema. Mr. Abreu is internationally known as the force behind the successful Venezuelan music education program disseminating worldwide and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, as well as being the mentor of several international artists, most notably the star Musical Director of the L.A. Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel.
To further develop his carrier, Alí moved from Caracas to New York. He instantly became an active participant in the local jazz and Latin music scene, developing his skills in the myriad musical worlds of the city. His credits and talents stretch across many genres, including jazz, classical, pop, R&B, Middle Eastern, flamenco, and especially the many styles of South American music.
Connection Caracas New York is an album which comes to life as an exploration, combination, and what could even be considered a reinvention of different traditional and contemporary music styles. The album's many musical colors and textures create canvases of musical intermixtures in which Alí's virtuosic violin, and its very distinctive palette of sounds and timbre, is the protagonist.
The opening number, Amare, emanates its pulse and driving force from the complex matrix of the quitiplá drums, an Afro-Venezuelan percussion instrument made from bamboo. Bamboo tubes of various lengths are struck against the ground creating the onomatopoeic (= word-imitative) sound /ki:ti:’pla/. Along with the bamboo drumming, a joropo-like (= polyrhythmic music style from Venezuela in 6/8 metric) guitar and bass complete the rhythm section over which the violin and tenor sax conversation and solos are played. A coda-like crescendo sums all the rhythmic and melodic tension that jointly cadence in a climactic closing rhythmic pattern.
In G is a very stimulating Latin jazz tune. Its constant play and transformation between the minor and major mode of the tune depicts the many moods and textures of the melody and piano, bass, and violin solos. All is driven by a constant color-changing rhythm atmosphere - Latin clave, swing backbeat, and Venezuelan San Millán drum strokes (a rhythmic pattern from the central coast of Venezuela) that introduce the violin solo.
In Kiss, a driving pattern of 5/8 intoxicates this bluesy/Afro-Caribbean tune. A colorful guitar complements a strumming cuatro (a small Venezuelan guitar-like instrument with four single nylon strings), while bass and cajón propel the music forward. The violin and cuatro solos become the singing voices in this pulsating and bopping piece.
Written in one of the least known palos (styles) of Flamenco, Guajira comes as a refreshing palate cleanser. It is a Cuban Guajira in a 6/8 metric evolved into a Flamenco cante in which the violin becomes the singer and soloist. Percussive handclaps complete the dense, but flirtatious atmosphere created by guitar and bass.
Evoking a more New York Latin jazz sound, Mofongo is a Cha-Cha Blues led by flugelhorn and violin. A mellow and soulful horn, a bluesy and effervescent piano, and a funky wah-wah violin solo follow. The solo section leads into a montuno (vamp) in which the electric violin and horn trade riffs into a final mambo that increases in tension, leading the tune into the recap of the melody and a flashy drum solo.
One of the tunes which depicts a perfect fusion of Afro-Venezuelan music and jazz on this album is Cazón - literally meaning a type of dogfish. The culo‘e puya drums (a battery of long and slim drums originally from Venezuela) pulsate the beat along with the bandolas (a small pear-shaped chordophone guitar found in the plains of Venezuela). A multilayered mesh of sonorities and textures are the base of the phased electric violin melody accompanied by the soprano sax fills. Bass guitar, sax, and violin solos give this dark and intrinsic tune its shades and flow.
The Zapateao name and music style are derived from the Zapateado de Flamenco, a form of dance characterized by hitting the floor with one’s shoes as a percussive instrument. Violin, guitar, bass, and brushed cajón create the perfect illusion of the dancing and dynamic style. The tune is composed through and flashes a very contrapuntal web of virtuosity and lyricism.
One of the most well-known music standards of the Venezuelan popular songbook is Moliendo Café. In this version, the violin and piano create their own particular rendition, very free in style but very coupled in ensemble. Violin and piano solos take us in and out of the tune, re-composing and decomposing it into a total breakdown.
In the final tune, Untraveled, we hear a tonada (worksong) in the tradition of the Venezuelan plains in which the violin recites a melody that praises a fruitful and successful day of labor. The taciturn trotting of a horse, impersonated by the maracas, along with the cicadas and birds harmonize the singing. The initial melody leads into a llanero (plainsman or Venezuelan cowboy) voice. Its first copla (couplet) opens the way to a virtuosic interlude, a combination of classical and folkloric arpeggiated riffs, which climaxes into the final verse. The sung lyrics evoke and praise the findings of our search through the roads untraveled…
Con el andar se van las penas,
Por el sendero aclara el alma.
El que busca algún día encuentra,
Su manantial de agua clara.
Por los caminos del llano,
Me va arropando el silencio.
Y el cantar de las chicharras,
Llena mi pecho de ensueños.
Lucerito, lucerito, póngase.
With passages afflictions vanish,
Through the path the soul is purified.
He who seeks one day finds,
His spring of pure water.
By the roads of the Plains
The quietness begins to cover me.
And the singing of the cicadas,
Fills my chest with dreams.
Bright star, bright star, light up.
Bright star… Light up!
Composer, pianist & critic.