Miguel Zenón Presents Slavo Rican Assembly Live At Teatro Latea
NYC-based septet Slavo Rican Assembly performs live at Teatro Latea on November 30th, presented by Miguel Zenón.
With musicians from Slovenia, Puerto Rico, Serbia, and Cuba, Slavo Rican Assembly uses the international vocabulary of jazz as a springboard to delve deep into the sounds of their own musical roots - bomba, salsa and rumba bump up against Slovenian harvest songs, Bosnian lullabies, Serbian laments, Balkan brass and other melancholic South Slavic sounds in a musical sofrito that's 100% New York.
Slavo Rican Assembly will be hitting NYC's Samurai Hotel studio in November, to record seven new compositions, for their debut album. The new material includes originals instrumentas and new lyrics; new arrangements of Slovenian, Serbian, Macedonian folk songs, a spoken word track, and an original arrangement of a Silvio Rodriguez classic.
The band has already recorded "Moving Up", which debuted in October on Latinjazznet.com. Jan describes the track as "a sort of Slavo-Rican anthem. It's about dealing with hardships in life, and getting out on top. The melody throws you a curve ball - just like life - but the chorus ends in a danceable Balkan fanfare that shows that no matter what the world throws at you, the good in people will always win out!" Built over a Cuban son montuno with a Balkan rhythmic twist, 'Moving Up' is a slow-burner that veers off into unexpected, electronica-infused places: a tweaked Latin jazz workout that showcases Slavo Rican Assembly's vision and versatility.
Following the critical acclaim of his chart-topping debut album as a leader, Faith, the eclectic NY-based, Slovenian-born saxophonist Jan Kus extends his group further, and heads into the direction he has been naturally drawn to for the last few years. His new project unites his experiences from the NYC Latin Jazz music scene -- where as a member of the Fernando García Sextet, Jan recorded on one of Downbeat's "best albums of 2018" -- with his own South Slavic roots.
An idea that first started as a joke about Jan becoming "Puerto Rican by osmosis", because of the crew he used to play and hang out with regularly, was reaffirmed and strengthened with multiple tours of Puerto Rico, and finally developed into this full-on musical recipe for a unique fusion of various musical opposites.
The main focus of the Slavo Rican Assembly is the exploration of the similarities and differences between the music of the Puerto Rican (and generally, Caribbean), and South Slavic cultures, merging them into a cohesive, brand-new and unique sound.
What makes this delicate formula work in Jan's opinion are "the intricacy of rhythms, and the emotional charge of the melodies that the two musical traditions share"
The band members -- Aleksandra Denda (Serbia): vocals; Jan Kus (Slovenia): saxophone, synth overdubs; Gabriel Vicéns (Puerto Rico): electric guitar; Ahmed Alom Vega (Cuba): piano, keyboard; Dan Martínez (Puerto Rico): electric bass; Victor Pablo (Puerto Rico): percussion; Jean John (Slovenia): drums. -- combine the musical traditions from the Balkans and beyond with those of the Caribbean, synthesizing them seamlessly in a never-before-heard, heartfelt and powerful rhythmical entity.
With its cross-cultural sound, the group aims to demonstrate the universality of human experiences across national, political, and cultural borders, thus creating new "tribal" connections, which are more organized around ideas than blood relations, demonstrating the human ability to connect to all kinds of people in ways that are not exclusive, but expansive.
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