Filosofía Caribeña Vol.1 (Machete Records 210) by San Francisco Bay Area based, five-time Grammy nominee, John Santos and his Sextet is a landmark recording for several reasons. It is the eleventh release on John's Machete Records label and documents the first group of original compositions from John's work-in-progress of the last year-and-a-half, Filosofía Caribeña, commissioned by the East Bay Community Foundation, the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, the Ford Foundation, and dozens of enthusiastic individual donors, in cooperation with the Eastside Cultural Center in Oakland.
The May 1st release date in honor of International Worker's Day, gives a hint of the dominant political overtones of the thematic content.
The John Santos Sextet is made up of some of the finest players, composers, and arrangers in the field:
Dr. John Calloway - composer, arranger, flute, piano
Melecio Magdaluyo - all saxes, flute
Saul Sierra - composer, arranger, bass
Marco Diaz - composer, arranger, piano, trumpet
David Flores - drumset
John Santos - composer, percussion, coro
Steve Turre - trombone, Claudia Gómez - vocals, Pável Urkiza - guitar, vocals, arranger, Joey DeLeón - percussion, Javier Navarrette - percussion, Willie Ludwig - coro, Beatríz Godinez Muñíz - coro,
Raul de la Caridad Gonzalez Brito - composer
Other John Santos productions on Machete Records available from www.cdbaby.com:
M101 - Mañana Para Los Niños La Orquesta Batachanga (1985) Jammy Award winner (out of print)
M201 - SF Bay John Santos and The Machete Ensemble (2002) Grammy nominee
M202 - La Mar John Santos/Omar Sosa (2002)
M203 - Brazos Abiertos John Santos and The Machete Ensemble (2003)
M204 - Para Ellos JS y El Coro Folklorico Kindembo (2004) Latin Grammy nominee
M205 - 20th Anniversary John Santos and The Machete Ensemble (2005) double CD
M206 - Papa Mambo John Santos Quintet (2007)
M207 - La Guerra No JS y El Coro Folklorico Kindembo (2008) Grammy nominee
M208 - Perspectiva Fragmentada John Santos Quintet (2008)
M209 - La Esperanza John Santos y El Coro Folklorico Kindembo (2011)
M210 - Filosofía Caribeña Vol. 1 The John Santos Sextet (2011)
From: Downbeat, June 2011:
The John Santos Sextet
Filosofía Caribeña, Vol. 1
Machete Records 210
John Santos provides further evidence as to why he's one of today's most significant figures in Afro-Cuban music. Not only does he demonstrate superb command as a percussionist, composer and bandleader, he knows how to deliver music that moves the mind and hearts as well as the body. Such is the case for the dazzling Filosofía Caribeña, Vol. 1, a non-stop body rocker that demands repeated listening because of its infectious rhythms and erudite intents.
Santos underscores this music with political themes, touching upon the many commonalities between African American and Latino communities in hopes to restore the once strong bonds. He pays tribute to numerous figures, ranging from Argentine singer Mercedes Sosa and percussionists Armando Peraza and Fancisco Aguabella to his Cape Verdean father and San Francisco Bay area mentors, Ron Stallings and Allen Smith.
The thematic eminence certainly lifts the music, most noticeably on John Calloway's "He Was One Of Us," which begins with Melecio Magdaluyo's gushing tenor saxophone before the music quickly quells into pneumatic balladry, paving the way for Calloway's ebullient flute solo. Santos' gorgeous "No Soy Combatiente," which features passionate lead vocals from Claudia Gómez and Pável Urkiza, and the anthemic "Resistencia (Resistance)," which provides the discs funkiest percussion breakdown. All of the compositions are sharply composed and arranged; they also allot plenty of space for extensive solos and group interplay yet also contain enough ingenious structures and melodic passages to prevent autopilot bluster.