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Que Vola?

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It’s so cold this morning that I’m typing this with gloves on (fingerless ones, knitted by my daughter, since you ask). But all the ambiant heat I need is being provided by the debut CD from a Franco-Cuban band called Que Vola?, who stir new and inspiring life into an old formula.

The Cuban influence on jazz has been coming and going for the best part of a century, getting its biggest boost in the 1940s, when the immortal conguero Chano Pozo joined the Dizzy Gillespie big band. The story of Que Vola? — literally, “what flies?”, or “wha’ happen?” in the vernacular — began in 2012, when the trombonist Fidel Fourneyron visited Havana and was seized by a desire to blend jazz horns with the deep rhythms he was hearing in clubs.

Back in Paris, he added three Cuban percussionists — Adonis Panter Calderón, Ramón Tamayo Martínez and Barbara Crespo Richard — to an assembly of local musicians: Aymeric Avice (trumpet), Hugues Mayot and Benjamin Dousteyssier (saxophones), Bruno Ruder (electric piano), Thibaud Soulas (double bass) and Elie Duris (drums). As I say, it’s not a particularly new idea, but Fourneyron has come up with a different sound, a new set of textures and balances, as you can hear here and here. The effect is something akin to Grounation, the classic album in which Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari fused nyabinghi rhythms with post-bop jazz soloists 45 years ago.

What makes Fourneyron’s approach different from most earlier Latin-jazz fusions, I think, is that he accepts the Cuban rhythms at their most complex and sophisticated. He doesn’t try to water them down for a popular audience, even one familiar with salsa, but matches them to the complexity and sophistication of the contemporary jazz musician. What, really, could be closer to the spirit of Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo?

* Que Vola? is released on January 25 on the Nø Førmat label. The band will appear at EartH (Evolutionary Arts Hackney) in Stoke Newington on April 10, with Oumou Sangaré and Gérald Toto.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thanks, Richard. Two tracks available today on Apple Music are ensuring I play the whole album tomorrow.

    January 24, 2019
  2. COLIN ESCOTT #

    An artist I (probably…almost certainly) never would have found without Blue Moment. And a sale the artist never would have made. Thank you.

    January 24, 2019
  3. Daniel Silverstone #

    many thanks great to know about Que Vola Danny

    January 24, 2019
  4. I heard this on Late Junction the other night – blew me away

    >

    January 24, 2019
  5. Richard Boutal #

    As ever, A Blue Moment post send me scurrying to track down the music. Thanks.
    A further thought ……Glancing at the picture of this band I was briefly reminded of the back cover shot of the E Street band as it was for “The Wild the innocent and the E Street Shuffle”. I always wondered where SPringsteen might have gone had he stuck with Vinci Lopez on drums and a conga player….

    January 24, 2019

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