AfroMantra | Uplifting Spirit

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Jazz: Latin Jazz Jazz: World Fusion Moods: Featuring Drums
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Uplifting Spirit

by AfroMantra

Exciting latest release from the groundbreaking NYC-based group AfroMantra, led by drummer/composer Alex Garcia.
Genre: Jazz: Latin Jazz
Release Date: 

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1. The Uplifting Spirit of our Soul Alex Garcia's AfroMantra
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5:58 $0.99
2. Canción Latinamericana Alex Garcia's AfroMantra
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6:36 $0.99
3. Luna y el Sol Alex Garcia's AfroMantra
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6:14 $0.99
4. A Emiliano Salvador Alex Garcia's AfroMantra
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9:31 $0.99
5. Por Ti Alex Garcia's AfroMantra
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4:55 $0.99
6. Nuevo Amanecer Alex Garcia's AfroMantra
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7:28 $0.99
7. Yemaya, Goddess of the Sea Alex Garcia's AfroMantra
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6:47 $0.99
8. Sueños de Otoño Alex Garcia's AfroMantra
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5:57 $0.99
9. Green Horizons Alex Garcia's AfroMantra
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6:02 $0.99
10. Lighting the World Alex Garcia's AfroMantra
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6:18 $0.99
11. Mi Palabra Alex Garcia's AfroMantra
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Liner notes by Chuy Varela.

I smile every time I hear Alex Garcia play his drums. Drawing from Caribbean, South American, hardbop jazz with a strong Afro Cuban influence, he has developed a polyrhythmic balance on trap set full of passion and skill. With his band Afromantra, he has formed a vehicle of expression for the ideas burning within his creative soul.

I've always believed that life and its experiences, along with a well-rounded education, is what give identity to an artist. That is certainly true of Alejandro. In 1973, along with his family he had to leave his home country of Chile moving to Peru. In 1979, the family moved to La Habana, Cuba; the place where he received a profound musical education. However, it was in New York City that he was born as an artist.

Since the release of Afromantra's debut album in 2000, Garcia has established a firm reputation as a drummer and bandleader with his Latin jazz ensemble. Strong, confident and positive, he's paid dues and gleaned knowledge from the masters. Now on "Uplifting Spirit – Espiritu Optimista" he brews a diverse blend of cultural herbs to create good musical medicine for trying times.

All the compositions and arrangements are by Garcia with a great cast of collaborators. Ole Mathisen is a seasoned and imaginative voice on tenor and soprano saxophones who provides many bright moments throughout. The pianists, Pablo Vergara, Manuel Valera, and Desmar Guevara, add extraordinary harmonic colors to the pieces. And you can't ignore congero Aryam Vásquez and bassist Waldo Chavez who ground the combo.

"Uplifting Spirit - Espiritu Optimista" is an entrancing album full of sonic magical realism. The pieces traverse ideas and moods that stretch from one end of the hemisphere to the other taking the listener with facility and imagination through unlikely plots and connections.

Yes, Alex Garcia has given us a gift that's positive, uplifting and got me smiling from ear-to-ear. Good medicine for trying times.

Jesse "Chuy" Varela
Music Director - KCSM FM 91, San Mateo, CA
Contributing writer to the San Francisco Chronicle, Jazz Times and Latin Beat magazines.


Reviews


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Den

Great, confident, mature, creative.
This is great, confident, mature, creative latin jazz of the highest order. Please come to the UK soon.

Iñigo Diaz

.....Uplifting Spirit es un disco para recordar....
Álex García
Uplifting spirit
(2006, Afromantra Records)

Iñigo Díaz

Aunque no estén ciento por ciento elaborados por chilenos, hay dos proyectos de orquestas vertebrales en el latin jazz chileno. Una, Irazú Big Band, la más antigua, organizada en 1981 por el saxofonista Raúl Gutiérrez, y que trabajó con sedes en Munich, La Habana y Santiago. Dos, Ensamble Latinomoderno, la más nueva, dirigida desde 2004 por el pianista cubano Juan Manuel Arranz. El saxofón y el piano son buenas plataformas para liderar conjuntos de jazz. Pero la batería, que fue el primer instrumento creado exclusivamente para el jazz, siempre opera desde atrás. Salvo en casos como en este tercer ensamble presentado también como "chileno" al interior del latin jazz neoyorquino. Suena extraño, pero hasta cierto punto es real. El baterista Álex García, con pasaporte nacional, encabeza hoy al grupo Afromantra, que se mueve en barrios de Manhattan con alta convocatoria de músicos latinos y jazzistas con clave y con swing.

Álex García, que en realidad se llama Alejandro García, puede ser un hombre desconocido aquí porque ya tiene diez años en la Nueva York y otros diez en La Habana. Su linaje además lo obliga a crear cosas sonoras e igualmente visuales. Es hijo del compositor Fernando García (Premio Nacional de Música 2002) y de la bailarina y coreógrafa Hilda Riveros. Uno entiende de pronto que música como la de Uplifting spirit, su tercer disco, se escuche y también se vea. Es el latin jazz, que es mestizo en su naturaleza y multicolor en su esencia. Queda expuesto con García también por lo cosmopolita de la agrupación, por la variedad timbrística y por la inspiración musical. Latin jazz suena primero a Dizzy Gillespie, luego a Ray Barretto y después a toda la galería de estrellas de Irakere. Álex García respeta esa tradición desbordante, pero él es chileno y lo hace saber de alguna manera, junto con uno de sus pianistas, el penquista Pablo Vergara, también radicado en Nueva York.

En "Canción latinoamericana" hay patrones rítmicos que son transversales a la América del Sur. Algo entre malambo, chacarera o landó. Y es cierto, de pronto Afromantra también suena a Congreso, en algún segmento de "Nuevo amanecer". Eso es muy de acá, más que de allá. Una composición que de paso pone bellos unísonos y conversaciones entre el saxo tenor de Jorge Castro y el soprano de Ole Mathisen, un músico francamente sobresaliente durante todo el tránsito de Uplifting spirit. En "A Emiliano Salvador", por ejemplo, el noruego se despacha un solo que da miedo. Pero más allá de las cualidades solísticas de los hombres de Afromantra y del liderazgo compositivo de García, queda la sensación de que el trabajo colectivo es prioritatio y en su desarrollo se termina mostrando a una banda que es un mecanismo de relojería. Se nota en los despliegues conjuntos, en el tumbao, las claves, las descargas, la conexión entre baterista y percusionista, cuyo golpes mandan. Uplifting spirit es un disco para recordar y su música tiene dedicatoria. Si no es una es otra: "Sueños de otoño", a los idealistas y soñadores; "Green horizons", al eterno presente; "Nuevo amanecer", a los cambios y nuevos comienzos; "Luna y el sol", a su hija Luna; "Por ti" a su esposa Marina, "A Emiliano Salvador", a Emiliano Salvador; "Canción latinoamericana", a Latinoamérica. Y la que más: "The uplifting spirit of our soul", dedicada al mundo. Álex García apunta alto.

Eliseo Cardona

Sembrando Canciones
"La canción es la sal de los hombres comunes", escribió alguna vez Pablo Neruda, que nunca se creyó músico pero cuya sensibilidad musical le permitió darle a su obra poética el carácter de una sinfonía latinoamericana. La observación del poeta tal vez sirva para apreciar este Espíritu optimista, uno de esos discos que se ofrecen como clave para entender la esencia (y acaso una de las misiones) del llamado jazz latino. Lo firman el baterista chileno Alex García y su grupo Afromantra, que han integrado múltiples influencias en un mosaico que potencia la versatilidad y la imaginación como dos de sus mayores voces.

Con sus excepciones (todas sin duda luminosas), una de las carencias más notables del jazz moderno es la canción. Es como si el peso de la música descansara en unas pocas generaciones. Es cierto que hoy hay más virtuosismo y técnica, algo de experimentación y mucha ambición, inteligencia y profundos conocimientos. Pero se echa en falta canciones con garra, un atractivo corpo musical que permita continuar el diálogo con el pasado y dejar a las futuras generaciones una referencia más cercana en el tiempo. No sin razón el jazz (y su variante latina) todavía tienen en los llamados estándares americanos su mejor fuente.

García, que es un compositor ingenioso, ha procurado no dar la espalda a la estética del jazz afrocubano (principalmente Irakere), pero su oído está puesto en esa rica poética del folclor latinoamericano (con notables ecos de Congreso y otros grupos sureños). Tal vez por eso sus composiciones parecen recorridos vertiginosos por un mapa musical amplio y nada ajeno. Son temas con atractivo y duende, ajeno a las fórmulas, ricos en posibilidades expresivas.
Ayuda que a estas canciones las avive un quinteto que se muestra a la vez ágil y detallista, tradicional y moderno, experimental y algo romántico. De esos contrastes se alimenta el mejor jazz.

fiestajazz.com

This CD is outstanding!
Definitely on the same level of Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, Dafnis Prieto, Marlon Simon, etc. Alex is one of the superstars of the drums. This Cd is outstanding!

Jazz Improv by Curtis Davenport

.... enjoy a joyous, life-affirming musical ride.
Uplifting Spirit (Espiritu Optimista) is the
third offering from AfroMantra, the formidable
New York based Latin Jazz ensemble, led by
drummer/percussionist Alejandro “Alex” Garcia.
Mr. Garcia and his band draw from a variety of
influences that are as wide and storied as Mr.
Garcia’s background, to create a truly contemporary
view of the marriage of jazz and various
Latin musical styles.
A bit of Alex Garcia’s personal history is
worth noting here. Born in Santiago, Chile, Mr.
Garcia and his family fled Chile, in 1973, when
Alex was seven, as a result of a military coup.
The family landed in Peru, where they remained
until 1979, at which point they moved to Havana,
Cuba. All the while, young Alex was soaking
up a rich musical education both directly,
from his choreographer mother and his composer
father and indirectly, from the music that he
heard at home and in his formal education. Mr.
Garcia counts among his influences Miles Davis,
Pink Floyd, Perez Prado, and Irakere. By the
time he arrived in New York in 1996, Garcia
was ready to put all of these influences into practice,
in an environment that was as culturally and
musically diverse as was his background and so
he did in 1997, when he formed AfroMantra.
Uplifting Spirit is a disc that I grew to like
more each time I listened to it (and I listened
many times). This is a tribute to the outstanding
writing and to the all-star musicians who bring
the vision to life. Norwegian-born saxophonist
Ole Mathisen, who has recorded with Eddie
Gomez and Peter Erskine has a full robust tone
on the tenor, similar to that of another great
Latin Jazz tenorman, David Sanchez. Like Sanchez,
he is also not afraid to head for the “free”
side of the street, when a piece warrants, such as
on “Yemaya, Goddess of the Sea.” Also, check
out his work on the disc’s best cut, “Nuevo
Amanecer (New Dawn),” a track that keeps you
on your toes, by switching from an easy going
first half, highlighted by Mathisen’s Grover
Washington-like soprano and guest tenor man
Jorge Castro’s tenor counterpoint, floating over
guest star Manuel Valera’s dreamy Fender Rhodes;
to an all out descarga, where Valera shows
off his Chucho Valdes influenced piano and
Mathiesen shows us the grittier side of the soprano
sax. The group’s pianist Pablo Vergara, a
veteran of Dave Valentin’s group, has several
highlights as well, most notably on “Suenos de
Otono (Autumn Dreams),” in a trio with Mr.
Garcia and guest bassist Jorge Bringas. Percussionist
Aryam Vazquez is rock steady throughout,
turning in first class work on the congas,
batas and cajon, that is a perfect compliment to
leader Garcia’s work on the traps.
This CD is called Uplifting Spirit for good
reason. These eleven tracks, all penned by Mr.
Garcia, are upbeat and positive in tone, even
when the tempo slows down. Please note that
AfroMantra’s brand of Latin Jazz, or Afro-
Cuban Jazz, if you prefer, is not the mambodriven
product favored by Mario Bauza, Machito
and other greats of the 50’s and 60’s. Although
those influences can be heard, this music owes
more to the sound of Irakere, Paquito D’Rivera
and the ‘70’s, when the influences of free jazz
and rock fusion began to make their way into
Latin music. If this is a new experience for you, I
advise you to open up your mind as well as your
ears and enjoy a joyous, life-affirming musical
ride.

jazzworldquest

\"Uplifting Spirit\" is a superb recording........
New York City based AfroMantra latest release, "Uplifting Spirit" is a superb recording rich in surprising improvisations built around afro latin themes, high energetic rhytms and experimental sonorities, everything played with extreme clarity and emotion by drummer/composer Alex Garcia and his bandmates.This is not Latin fusion "as usual", but another brilliant work of greatest creativity from this extraordinary band.

Latin Jazz U.S.A

AfroCuban jazz and Latin Jazz, interpreted with freshness, aggressiveness and mu
AfroMantra means positive energy, AfroCuban jazz and Latin Jazz, interpreted with freshness, aggressiveness and musical tenderness. We've been in various AfroMantra performances, and in each one, we've been surprised and amazed by the diversity of rhythms and the beautiful melodies that are intricately structured in a jazz setting, and interpreted in a musical framework which makes us vibrate, enjoy, listen and stand up and cheer. AfroMantra, a progressive and innovative group, surprises us once again with a new and extraordinary musical offering, "Uplifting Spirit".

Tony Cimorosi BASSICS MAGAZINE

World music via NYC
listening to this CD (Afromantra) excites every part of your body.... it dances and sings of the music and culture that Alex Garcia lives and is a part of here in NYC. Music is in his soul, i know because i play with him and have Alex on my Horizon CD. His knowledge and feel for his music and compositions is up there with the best, and he's a drummer that writes melodies and harmonies... WOW!! Highly recommended... you won't go wrong having this cd in your top ten list. You'll be reading more about this drummer in bassics magazine...

PAX