I almost didn’t buy this disc. And I wouldn’t blame you for not picking it up. I found it in the Cuban bin of the International section at my local Tower Records. No indication as to what kind of music it was, except that Yosvany Terry is listed as producer. I’d discovered Terry, a cutting edge Cuban reedman, on recordings by Jane Bunnett and Marilyn Lerner. A player at once steeped in the Latin-jazz tradition yet annexing new ground, I trusted that his involvement would stamp this disc with a special flavor.
And I guessed right.
Twisted Noon is fast emerging as my favorite Afro-Cuban jazz disc of all time. My only regret is that I didn’t pick it up sooner. But with so few clues, I didn’t–and I don’t blame you for not adding it to your collection either, although with this review, you’re left with little excuse.
OK, I’m climbing up on my platform, and I’m going to beat you into submission if you don’t just drop everything and pick up this disc. This is the REAL DEAL. I say without embarrassment and with complete confidence that Twisted Noon is one of the greatest if not the greatest Afro-Cuban jazz disc every recorded–right up there with New Directions by Chucho Valdes. It throbs with energy, bursts with life. Pretty much everything’s on display right from the git-go. “Llegada a Nueva York,” the opening number, a tribute to such Afro-Cuban masters as Chano Pozo, Dizzy Gillespie, and Mario Bauza, shifts and slips with ease between traditional Latin rhythms and bop stylings. Sounding quite a bit like Jerry Gonzalez’s late, great, lamented Fort Apache Band, but updated, wilder, more feral, yet somehow even slicker and more folkloric-based, this is simply astounding music. And it just keeps up throughout the entire disc. The two vocal numbers, “California” and “Tenderly,” although not particularly to my taste, are quite ravishingly sultry and show another side of this band’s genius.
Much of the credit must go to the two leaders, composers, and arrangers, Yosvany Terry (alto sax, checkere, and background vocals) and Roberto Carcasses (piano). These two have been playing together for many years, and Twisted Noon represents a more than three-year gestation of the present band. And does it ever show. This is the tightest, most varied, most brilliantly colored Afro-Cuban jazz band ever. What they’ve managed to do that no other band has done so successfully is fully integrate a folkloric approach with a visionary jazz esthetic. What emerges is celebratory, ecstatic, fiery, soothing, mesmeric folk-jazz of the highest caliber.
Not to be missed.
Jan P. Dennis