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Review of Rimbombante's Album Launch in Ottawa Jazz Scene

Energetic music attracts a packed house at Rimbombante CD release show

Monday, 22 April 2013

Rimbombante's CD release concert stage on April 5 was as packed as the coffee house was from listeners. L-R: Reynier Garcia, Dean Pallen, Arien Villegas, Evandro Garcelli, Carlos Santana. Hidden: Gerg Horvath (bass). ©Brett Delmage, 2013

Rimbombante's CD release concert stage on April 5 was as packed as the coffee house was from listeners. L-R: Reynier Garcia, Dean Pallen, Arien Villegas, Evandro Garcelli, Carlos Santana. Gerg Horvath (bass). It isn't often that a CD release concert gets an overture as well. When Rimbombante's show on April 5 was delayed because of a musician's car breaking down, the group's pianist, Carlos Santana, sat down and played half an hour of sparkling solo piano – impromptu. And that didn't make him any less energetic when the whole band was playing.

The Ottawa-based group – Santana, composer Dean Pallen on saxophone and clarinet, Evandro Gracelli on guitar, Gerg Horvath on bass, Reynier Garcia on congas and percussion, Arien Villegas on drums – represent a wide range of ethnic and musical origins, and their music reflects that as well. It's an amalgam of jazz and world music with a noticeable Latin flavour, a strong percussive base, and memorable melodies.

And lots of energy! Whether in a fast, breezy soprano sax line, a flowing guitar solo, rippling keyboards, dancing conga beats, driving bass, fast Cuban drum rhythms, or vibrant vocals, the music worked at the April 5 show because of the strong interaction among the musicians and the vigour each of them added. The audience greeted that energy with strong applause, particularly at the end, and demanded an encore.

The group was celebrating the release of its new CD, Maria has Lost Her Soul, which consists of originals composed by Pallen. The setlist was drawn from that album or from so-far-unreleased material recorded at the same time.

The show attracted a packed house to the less-usual venue of the TAN Roasters Coffee House in Sandy Hill. Pallen said he picked the location because he was very proud to reside in the Sandy Hill neighbourhood and it was a great place to live.

The date allowed Gracelli, who is from Brazil but who was a member of the band while he lived in Canada for two years, to take part in the CD launch. Pallen said Gracelli had played on the new album, and brought a subtle sound and “big ears” to the group while he was part of it.

Rimbombante will drop down to a quartet without Gracelli, Pallen said. The group will eventually look for a new guitar player.

– Alayne McGregor
Background on Rimbombante
Rimbombante’s Bolero Past: Rimbombante is a Spanish term that denotes something flamboyant or having a strong resonance. It is also the name of an Ottawa-based band playing music inspired by Latin America. Rimbombante is part of Majunga Music, a small entity guiding the music of World-Music and jazz acts. Rimbombante began in 2006 interpreting classic bolero songs from Latin America. The bolero is like a jazz ballad only it has a stronger rhythmic quality. In 2008, Rimbombante recorded Una Aventura Más that is collection of classic bolero covers with a few originals. The reaction to the originals was strong enough to encourage Rimbombante to develop an original repertoire. Soon afterwards Dean Pallen, the group’s saxophonist, began writing the new material. In the winter of 2010, Rimbombante began practising the new repertoire with an expanded ensemble and playing them around Ottawa and Eastern Ontario and Quebec to work out the kinks. The result is Maria has Lost her Soul that was recorded in 2011-2012.

The Rimbombante Sound of Today: The current repertoire of Rimbombante encompasses a broad array of Latin, jazz and popular music influences. When Rimbombante expanded the group it incorporated musicians from Brazil and Cuban and this has enabled Rimbombante to expand musically. The key is how the Latin heritage of the musicians of Rimbombante intersects with the varied compositions and musical structures of the group’s repertoire. The Rimbombante sound is defined by its melodies, mixture of styles and Latin rhythms and tempo and overall accessibility without a sense of compromise. While the Rimbombante sound might still employ the classic bolero sound, the 3-2 clave or rare Brazilian rhythms, it is the meshing of these elements with Dean Pallen’s unique compositions that make the Rimbombante sound.

The Musicians of Rimbombante:
Dean Pallen: saxophones
Evandro Gracelli: guitar
Salomon Carcillo: percusión
Gerg Horvath: standup bass
Arien Villegas: Drums
Carlos Santana: piano

Dean Pallen Saxophonist, Composer and musical arranger: Dean is the leader of Rimbombante writing and arranging the group’s music. He serves the same role for Raivo, a group that mixes African, jazz and popular music influences. He released two albums as the co-leader of Raivo that can be found on CD Baby. In 2010, he released Strathcona Park a collection of original jazz compositions. His World-Music tendencies are mixed with his love for composers like Thelonious Monk, Billy Strayhorn, Claude Debussy and Brian Wilson. He recently started a new project called Dean Pallen Presents Madagascar that will lead to a recording session and public performance in 2013 and 2014. In 2014, he will release Sunswept Sunday, a recording of rare Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn songs that was made with pianist J-P Allain.

Evandro Gracelli Guitarist and Composer: Evandro was born in Vitória state of Espírito Santo-Brazil. Evandro started playing when he was 13 years old and had studied with Julinho Marques, Ulisses Rocha, Chriso Rocha, Wilson Lopes, Alberto Trindade and Nelson Faria. He received his music degree from Unicamp (University of Campinas-São Paulo-Brazil). He has a Bachelor of Arts in Music, Major in Guitar and Popular Music. In 2004 he released his first album Urucum, an acclaimed work. Urucum led Evandro to Itaú Cultural Rumos Musica 2005 (a prestigious Brazilian prize), and Urban Jungle Records’ “Hi Brazil” CD, released in Europe 2007. He has scored music for films and works as a musical educator. Currently Evandro is involved in musical projects in Brazil (Trio Canastra - choro and jazz Brazil, Meia Fina Trio- jazz Brazil) and in Canada (Florquestra Brasil, Roda de Samba, Patricia Cano, Tropicantos, Sol da Capital, Rene Gely, and Rommel Ribeiro). Evandro also plays the Cavaco –Cavaquinho, a traditional string instrument from Brazil.

Gerg Horvath Stand-up Bass: Gerg is a self taught musician. He began playing in rock bands during secondary school and studied jazz while at university. Around 2000, he became active on the Ottawa music scene accompanying and recording with local folk groups while playing in jazz groups. He also became a founding member of Raivo. Shortly afterward he left for Japan where he played in a number of classical music formations. He participated in both Raivo recordings (Hommage and Mahabibo). He played in the Impressions in Jazz Orchestra and is a member of the Divertimento Orchestra. He participated in the recording of Una Aventura Más. Since 2008, he has been playing with the electro-acoustic avant-garde ensemble Kingdom Shore.

Arien Villegas Drummer and Percussion: Arien is a percussionist and drummer who immigrated to Ottawa from Cuba. In Cuba he worked as a professional musician playing in Afro-Cuban and popular music bands. In Ottawa he has become a staple on the local Latin music and jazz scenes. He has been a member of the Caridad Cruz Orchestra and led a Latin big band called Cocktail Tropical. In addition to Rimbombante, he is currently the drummer for the Miguel Angel de Armas Quartet. He was the drummer on Dean Pallen’s Strathcona Park.

Carlos Alberto Santana pianist and composer: Carlos is a musician and composer who is originally from Mexico and migrated to Canada in 1998. He studied jazz with Juan Jose Calatayud in Mexico and Jan Jarczyk from McGill University in Montreal. Carlos has played in most popular festivals in the National Capital Region and recorded on different projects with Mighty Popo album "Muhazi" (Happy Rock Studio, 2007); Servantes album "Bluesy Andalucy" (Studio Champagne, 2009); CBC Live Radio 2, 2010. He's also founder of Latin Jazz Trio YA! His major influences are Scott Joplin, Ernesto Lecuona, George Gershwin, Claude Bolling, Michel Camilo, Astor Piazzolla, Mario Ruiz Armengol and Chick Corea. He is an original member of Rimbombante and can be heard on Maria has Lost Her Soul.

Salomon Carillo Percussionist: Salomon Carrillo began his career drumming for a Gospel band in his native El Salvador over30 years ago. After a period as a rock drummer, he participated in numerous Salvadorian Folkloric music groups that led to tours to in North America, Europe and Central America. Currently he is the co-leader of Shaman Rhythms that released its first album last year. The group is noted for its blending of Latin rhythms. He participated in the recording of Una Aventura Más.