John Santos descends from three roots; Cape Verdean (like Horace Silver), Puerto Rican (like Willie Colon), and Irish.
Our man, from word go, is super-criollo.
He plays many styles on this remarkable CD.
There is a mambo-descarga (Café con Leche), a jazz-rumba (Chano Pozo), straight-ahead jazz (SF Bay), old school salsa (Buscará Candela and Afilando), Puerto Rican plena (Cuanto Mas Sufrirás), plus comparsa callejera and mozambique (La Jardinera and El Afrokán).
This incredible range is the signature strength of a man who knows how to afincar (lock into rhythm) and cocinar (turn smoke, red pepper and greens into sound) .
(exerpt from liner notes) Robert Farris Thompson New Haven 20 January, 2002 SF BAY - John Santos and the Machete Ensemble Orestes Vilató John Calloway Wayne Wallace Melecio Magdaluyo Ron Stallings Paul Van Wageningen David Belove Murray Low Orlando Torriente John Santos Special Guests José Fajardo Omar Sosa Felo Barrio Carlos Del Puerto Anthony Blea Alex Murzyn Dafnis Prieto Josh Jones Javier Navarrette Quique Dávila José Luís Gomez Destani Wolf Ismael Rodriguez Bárbara Valladares Raúl Navarrette AMERICA'S MUSIC (exerpt from liner notes) I can already hear it, "that's a dance record .
it's salsa, not jazz .
" While those with opinions argue the difference between jazz, Latin jazz, jazz Latino, Afro-Cuban jazz, world music, son, salsa, salsa gorda, salsa monja, salsa romantica, cumbia, bachata, merengue, timba, tropical music, etc., the lines that might have delineated some of these forms continue to blur, perhaps leaving the gray areas larger than the categories themselves.
While this may prove problematic for the marketers, vendors, and award-givers in the "industry," I'm delighted at the increased opportunities to musically tell historical truths that have been neglected for way too long.
Let's begin with the Caribbean roots of jazz, owed in large part to those most swinging and Caribbean of cities, New Orleans and New York.
That's right, New York! The gorgeous San Francisco Bay Area was one of the early destinations in the globetrotting journey of Caribbean peoples and culture.
Perhaps the oldest Puerto Rican social club in the country (1912), still operates in San Francisco's Mission District barrio.
Although our Latin population is significantly less Caribbean than that of the East Coast, the Bay Area is home to a fierce crew of talented and dedicated musicians and a loyal public of all ethnic backgrounds who love, defend and support Salsa and Latin Jazz on a big-league level.
Bay is our tribute to these supporters and defenders of the music.
In the spirit of honesty, freedom and truth embodied by jazz and understood so well by Satchmo, Duke, Bauzá, Machito, Diz, Monk, Bird, Tito, Blakey, Cal, Chico, Mingus, Palmieri, Valdés, Rubalcava, Hidalgo, Sosa, Oquendo, Ray, Choco, Steve, Milton, Davíd, Ralphy, Papo, Bobby, and so many others, let's give the Caribbean roots of jazz their long overdue and rightful place at the table of jazz heritage next to their big brothers and sisters - the blues and US spiritual musical traditions.
The US is the birthplace of jazz, but our imaginary borders and boundaries will not hold the truth off much longer.
This is not my opinion.
The music proves that jazz is a quintessential American art form in the true, pan-American sense of the word.
We often purport to teach music, but it is the music that teaches.
We have but to listen .
Congo de Guinea soy, buena noche criollo .
John Santos Madison, Wisconsin March, 2002