Album Review: Unidad from Aguankó

Album:  Unidad
Artist:  Aguankó
Label:  Self-Released

Cuban bop or Cubop is not only the moniker of percussionist Alberto Nacif's dormant Latin group through the 1990's but it is a type of musical style in the jazz spectrum that is recognizable and easily persuades the body to move along to its rhythmic stride.  Think of the theme song from the TV program Sex in the City, composed by Douglas Cuomo.  Nacif tweaks percolating romps with woodwind and brass threading that finesses the Cuban-fermented bop style to a sophisticated vintage.

Aguankó's 5th effort, Unidad, is filled with original Latin jazz arrangements. The recording features the core members of Aguankó, all coming from the halls of the Detroit area jazz scene.  Hitting it off with the spicy mambo-clad furls of "Kintsugi," the track is fraught with tingling percussive beats.  Followed by the cha-cha chassis mooring "Discurso," having an immediate effect on the listener's hips, helpless to move to the cheery gyrations of Nacif's congas and Charlie Miller's fluttering trumpet.

The recording softens to a sultry simmer through "Dualidad" with Russ Miller's saxophone helming the course, then shifting into the lulling bolero sway of "Dedication."  The lively mambo swish in the rhythmic pulse splayed across "Todo Es Todo" keeps the recording upbeat, then segues into the sinuous cantor of Russ Miller's flute, traipsing along "Viaje Con El Viento" with a cool fluidity as the light trickle of Rick Roe's piano keys pump up the jovial mood.  Turning pensive through "Adios Amigo" while maintaining the upbeat percussive shimmers, the tangoesque strut of the horns scroll frolicking twists and spins adding to the Cuban jazz gourmet.

The press release for Aguankó details that "Alberto Nacif was born in Mexico City, and lived the isthmus state of Oaxaca on Mexico’s west coast where Cuban derived rhythms were part of everyday music. He began playing conga and bongo drums at a young age with local musicians in Mexico. He emigrated to Detroit, Michigan as a teen, and became involved in that City’s Jazz, Disco and Latin music scene, playing in multiple venues, but found the Latin Jazz muse by playing with saxophonist and composer Jimmy Stefanson’s La Combinacion."

Several dignitaries south of the American border compliment their citizens, claiming their people are their greatest export.  Perhaps Alberto Nacif is proof of that claim and is meant to be shared with the world.

Alberto Nacif - congas
Rick Roe - piano
Jose Espinosa - timbales, percussion
Russ Miller - saxophone, flute
Charlie Miller - trumpet, flugelhorn
Christopher Smith - trombone
Patrick Prouty - bass
Kurt Krahnke - bass


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