Calle 13
Minino Garay &Los Tambores del Sur
Plenealo
La Gaiteros de San Jacinto
La Tregua
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Tony Martinez & Cuban Power
CUBA
Cuban Latin Jazz & Salsa
 
Mr. Coltrane
Pa' lo' latino
Tumbao pa' mi timbal
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At a time when the world can't seem to get enough of the Cuban sound, a young son of the island nation is reshaping long held perceptions of a genre that's enjoyed unfaltering global favor for over half a century.

And while the proliferation of Cuban music releases in recent years has reached a level unfathomable 60 years ago when groups like Ernesto Lecuona's Cuban Boys sparked a global fascination with African-rooted, Havana-bred styles, the music of Tony Martinez and his group The Cuban Power stands out from the crowd. In a flourish of dense, danceable rhythms, hypnotizing themes and adventurous, virtuosic musicianship, he and his celebrated colleagues validate the contemporary appeal of a venerable art form known for its indomitable spirit and visceral attraction.

As he brazenly demonstrated on La Habana Vive, his 1998 debut for the Blue Jackel Entertainment label, Tony Martinez is among the most elite ranks of contemporary Cuban musicians. An artist with an exceptional understanding of his country's African-derived rhythms, he possesses an equally impressive awareness of how to incorporate elements of jazz, funk and other non-Cuban ingredients to achieve stylistic hybrids that produce uncommonly bracing results. His ability to meld primordial rhythmic and vocal elements with contemporary, jazz savvy values places him in the vanguard of today's most impressive and promising Latin musicians.

On Maferefun, his follow-up release for Blue Jackel, the 31 year old master musician, composer and arranger and his group The Cuban Power further advance their goal of defining a new way of using the dialect of traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms to forge a new music language for the next millennium. And the company Martinez keeps on the album speaks both of the high esteem in which he is held by many of Cuba's most important musicians and of their eagerness to contribute to the leader's imposing artistic quest. Foremost among Martinez' colleagues on the session is the
extraordinarily gifted piano virtuoso Gonzalo Rubalcaba, recognized throughout the world
as one of the most important jazz innovators of his generation. Conguero Miguel Anga Diaz, a veteran of the seminal Cuban group Irakere, is a technically dazzling percussionist who is viewed as the kind of breakthrough conga player who comes along only once in several decades. Trumpeter Julio Padron, also a graduate of the Irakere finishing school of Cuban jazz, is both a brilliant soloist and the consummate section member. Drummer Julio Barreto, a member of Rubalcaba's famous Cuban jazz quartet, is another star quality musician who, as with his cohorts on the session, enthusiastically conforms to the spirit of camaraderie Martinez has cultivated among his cast of guest musicians and regular band members.

Today based in Bern, Switzerland, Tony Martinez was born in 1968 in Camaguay, a landlocked city located midway between Havana and Santiago, Cuba's two most important cultural centers. But virtually every Cuban town of any size boasts its own impressive cultural assets and distinct
regional flavor. When he was only nine years of age, Martinez was well on his way to becoming the well-rounded musician he is today. He initiated formal study of music at the city's Escuela Profesional de Musica Jose White with an emphasis on the European classical tradition and saxophone, piano and voice. Eventually gravitating to the hypnotic, African-rooted
folk styles present in central Cuba, he quickly achieved a regional reputation, earning first place honors in three national music competitions.

By the late 1980s, Martinez had earned his degree, become director of three bands dedicated to Cuban folkloric and dance music, and began duties as an instructor at the Conservatory of Camaguay. By the time he moved to Havana in 1990, he had already cultivated a national reputation, having scored second place in a national composition competition. A year in the
Cuban capital city broadened his understanding of jazz and other more contemporary styles through involvement in the famed band Mezcla. In the early 1990s, Martinez and Mezcla became favorites on the European jazz festival circuit, scoring critical successes at prestigious events
in Germany, Holland, Denmark and Austria. Since 1993, he's lived in Bern, Switzerland, where he's worked with leading Continent-based European, Brazilian and Cuban musicians in a variety of Latin jazz and salsa groups, enhancing his growing reputation through a performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival and collaborations with such internationally renowned musicians as Gonzalo Rubalcaba.

Martinez captivated an international audience with his arresting Blue Jackel debut, which was widely heralded as one of the Latin jazz revelations of the year in both jazz and Latin music publications. LATIN BEAT praised Martinez' "majestic fusion of diverse, popular and folkloric Cuban ingredients with elements of bebop, funk and bossa," while JAZZIZ raved about the session's funky dance grooves and its "radio friendly tracks with cajones (balls)." Now, fans entranced by their first exposure to Tony Martinez and his visionary sound stand to reap the many rewards of Maferefun.

"The album is simply a reflection of the soul," Martinez says. Equally articulate as a saxophone and keyboard soloist, he speaks of Maferefun in terms of the personal artistic growth the album represents. "It's a reflection of this stage of my life," he adds, "in which my energy and feelings, hand in hand, have once again rung that little bell inside me. When I listen to this music, I rejoice in all the little details. A deep feeling of happiness and joy runs throughout my entire body."

In the Yoruba tongue, the album's title means "Blessing to the divine grace." The new music Tony Martinez regales us with on Maferefun is both divine and a blessing.

 
Booking in collaboration with GKP
 
 
 
 DISCOGRAPHY:
 
    1999. La Habana Vive (Blue Jackel)
    2000. Maferefum (Blue Jackel)