Alex Acuña

Acuarela de Tambores

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Playing hand percussion and drum kit with a variety of different stars and lesser knowns, Acuna spans the breadth and depth of Latin-based rhythms from his native Peru through Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and other South American locales. Notables Giovanni Hidalgo, Luis Conte, Anthony Carrillo, and Paoli Mejias join a varying sized cadre of singers and fellow percussion helpmates to stroll through this multi-cultural mosaic of percussive splendor. Of the smaller ensemble tracks, "Bemlerias" is a 6/8 song with electric bass and keyboards on the more contemporary side, while "L.A. Rap" sports Spanish trash talk, and the ten-minute "Descarga at Dawn" is the ultimate cha based workout for quintet with Acuna on the kit. The CD starts with two chants, the rumba "Acuarela de Tambores" and the 2/4 "Feijao Com Pescao," while male and female singers inform the samba-type song "Redentor" with Cuica work by Paulinho De Costa or Acuna's kit solo and the booming two-note bass buoy for percussion and voices on "Abba Taita." Allan Phillips' jamming piano floats over the percussion bed on the happy Venezuelan gaita "Las Marias," while the duet with Acuna and pianist Otmaro Ruiz is an out-and-out flying modern jazz discourse. There's the bomba/plena-based "La Reina del Cafe," conga song "Las Campanas," percussion jam "Pa' Don Nicomedes," kinetic 6/8 bongo solo by Carrillo "Antoine's Conference," and with acoustic guitarist Felix Casaverde, a lustrous 6/8 groove on "Balance." Acuna calls these groupings "Acuarela de Tambores/Top Percussion" and the assertion lives up to its billing. This is an excellent potpourri of styles and feelings, all authentic, all potent and riveting. Highly recommended.

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