"This recording is one that will bring full enjoyment every time you play it and introduce you to the extraordinary sounds being heard in Santa Barbara. home to Somos Son." Nelson Rodriguez - Latin Beat Magazine
For many people outside the West Coast, the process of learning about the music being created and performed there has been a slow one. The roots from Seattle to San Diego have been rich with the diverse nationalities that have delved into the Afro-Caribbean sounds.
Back in December 1995, trumpeter/vocalist Dr. Robin Moore, now a professor of music at University of Texas, conguero Robert Clements and pianist/composer/arranger Karl Schiffmann formed Somos Son and began to bring the exciting dance rhythms of Cuba to Santa Barbara, California.
Robert, co-leader and a master percussion craftsman, has been a performer for 25 years. Karl has studied with some of Cuba’s finest keyboard players, including Chucho Valdes, Cesar “Pupy” Pedroso and Hilario Duran. Raul Rico, Jr., who for many years was the conguero for The Estrada Brothers, plays timbales on this debut CD, "Afrodite." Raul has been with Somos Son since 1996 and hosts both Latin jazz and salsa radio programs at KCLU-FM in Thousand Oaks, California.
The vocals are well-handled by Hugo Macario, who has toured with Quetzalcoatl, and José Elizarraraz, who together have their own group “Vientos Del Sur.” Malcolm Ian Peters, formerly of The Estrada Brothers and a member of Somos Son since 1996, does a formidable job on the bass. Veteran bongocero Tommy Saito, who has played with Tito Rodriguez, Hector Rivera, Rene Bloch, Paul Lopez and Bobby Montez, round out the rhythm.
Trumpeters Adolfo Acosta, first trumpet and current member of Tower of Power, and Barry Nitikman, second trumpet/arranger, are featured throughout this wonderful excursion through some classic covers.
“Afrodite” opens with the son “Bilongo,” one of Guillermo Rodriguez Fiffe’s best-known compositions. Karl leads the soloists into a blazing exchange between Barry and Adolfo followed by Raul ripping the timbales.
Band members heard the tune, “Cuarto De Tula” and fell in love with this popular son. It is their tribute to Elidades Ochoa’s version. Check out Karl on piano and Tommy’s inspiring bongo licks.
The pace slows down for the ever-romantic “Sabor A Mi” with Barry’s trumpet solo, and vocalists, Jose and Hugo, taking turns with the lead melody.
The title track, “Afrodite,” composed by Karl as a jazz-son, features special guest soloist and now regular first trumpet Jonathan Dane, with Robert adding the proper taste the song deserves.
“El Canoero” and “El Caballo Viejo” are traditional cumbias played regularly for Somos Son’s faithful fans at local gigs. “El Caballo Viejo” swings at the end with solos by Barry, Karl and Robert.
The Cha-Cha-Cha is well-represented by “Perfidia” with the arrangement inspiration coming from Linda Ronstadt’s Grammy-award winning recording “Frenesi.” Karl once again delights the listener with a superb solo. Barry’s invigorating trumpet solo adds a new twist to the song and is highlighted by Robert’s conga solo swinging above a son groove.
Somos Son delivers a juicy swing to the classic son, “Sabor a Caney,” with Adolfo’s trumpet and guest flautist Ruben Martinez.
On the classic, “Besame Mucho,” Barry’s arrangement and inspired trumpet "la diana" thoroughly blends modern Cuban salsa styles, giving the song a unique Somos Son flavor, and a proper closing to this smashing CD.
This recording is one that will bring full enjoyment every time you play it and introduce you to the extraordinary sounds being heard in Santa Barbara... home to Somos Son.
Latin Beat Magazine