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Review: Mark Weinstein - El Cumbanchero
Album Cover - El Cumbanchero
El Cumbanchero
 Artist: Mark Weinstein, arr. by Aruán Ortiz
 Album: El Cumbanchero
 Date of Release: 2011/11/08
 Label: Jazzheads
 Cat. No.: JH1187
 Country of Release: US
 Genre/s: 1. Jazz
2. World

 Sub-Genre/s: 1. Latin, Afro-Cuban, Contemporary, World
2. Latin, Afro-Cuban
 Type: Studio
   Time: 53:52
   Date of Review: 2011/11/04
   Contact: email
   Web Site:
   Sample Track
    Mark Weinstein A/V Page

Purchasing Info

El Cumbanchero

Jazz flautist Mark Weinstein's latest album, El Cumbanchero, arranged by Aruán Ortiz, will be released on the Jazzheads label on 8th November. Following Weinstein's (approximate) pattern of alternating Brazilian and Cuban albums, this sees him return to his beloved Cuban music.

However, El Cumbanchero ventures into new territory for Weinstein, the charanga. With a twist. While the charanga is a flute-led form, with the traditional wooden flute normally played mostly in the top register, Weinstein mostly adheres to his preferred middle and lower registers, and plays his normal golden Powell flute as well as alto and bass flute. And, needless to say, the form is given a strictly jazz treatment. The project was facilitated by the superb arrangements of pianist Aruán Ortiz, without whom, Mark Weinstein acknowledges, this album would never have come about.

The basic quartet comprises Weinstein himself, with Ortiz on piano, bassist Yunior Terry, and long-time collaborator Mauricio Herrera on timbales, conga, and guiro. They are supplemented on some tracks by the conga of Yusnier Sánchez Bustamante, and on all tracks by at least part of or a whole string quartet as is usual in charanga. Ortiz proves himself one of the very finest Latin jazz pianist to emerge in a long time. Herrera is also breathtaking, as usual. The rest of the team prove themselves first class. And Weinstein himself is on absolute top form and simply takes one's breath away - I don't think I have heard him play better than this.

For the material on El Cumbanchero Weinstein and Ortiz found that both shared the same favourites, and they selected six classics and three originals by Ortiz. Doubtless, the title track will be best known to most, having been recorded more than perhaps any other Latin piece. But here it is given an entirely new life that is exciting and utterly delightful. The remainder of the classics encompass some of my own favourites as well, I must confess. The three originals contributed by Ortiz are outstanding and, though taking a mostly squarely Latin jazz approach from the outset (Aruancó and Av. Pintor Tapiro), complement the classics perfectly.

Weinstein (and Ortiz) takes a big risk in taking the charanga out of its normal dance context while maintaining (more or less) the original instrumentation. But the risk has paid off, and El Cumbanchero ultimately marks a new milestone in the evolution of the Latin / Afro-Cuban jazz 'genre' through taking the traditional charanga form, combined with jazz, squarely into the 21st century. With the collaboration of Aruán Ortiz, Mark Weinstein, more than forty years after his revolutionary Cuban Roots album, continues to be the pioneer of Afro-Cuban jazz.

Ortiz's brilliant string arrangements expand the melodic and harmonic space for Weinstein, which throughout he explores with his customary expertise and consummate artistry, while exploring the rhythmic complexities of every piece to the fullest as well. In the process, Weinstein and Ortiz deliver a series of often fierce improvs that just take the breath away. With El Cumbanchero, Weinstein has created a whole new, lasting legacy for the jazz flute, and once again confirmed himself as one of the great improvisers writ large. He continues to evolve, along with his music and his distinctive flute voice - with particularly imaginative use of the alto and bass - surpassing himself with each new album. Without a doubt, El Cumbanchero is far and away Mark Weinstein's best album yet.

To speak of consistency would be an insult to Weinstein and this brilliant album. Pick any track, and it's an instant favourite. El Cumbanchero is wholly addictive and hypnotic in its beauty, elegance and charm, never mind its genius. You'll want to play this album over and over again.

Furthermore, to speak of Mark Weinstein's El Cumbanchero as an absolute must have would be a complete understatement. Fortunately, Jazzhead's excellent international distribution ensures that it is easily available anywhere. So, what are you waiting for? Get it!


© 2011 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore. All rights reserved.

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Track List:

 1. El Cumbanchero (Rafael Hernandez) - 4:34
 2. La Mulata Rumbera (Alejandro Gonzales) - 4:41
 3. Doña Olga (Enrique Jorrín) - 4:07
 4. Aruancó (Aruán Ortiz) - 7:14
 5. Av. Pintor Tapiro (Aruán Ortiz) - 8:36
 6. Perla Marina (Sindo Garay) - 4:06
 7. Armoniosos De Amalia (Israel Lopez) - 7:22
 8. Danzón De Liz (Aruán Ortiz) - 7:20
 9. Contigo En La Distancia (Cesar Portillo De La Luz) - 5:24

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Mark Weinstein - concert, alto and bass flutes
Aruán Ortiz) - piano
Yunior Terry - bass
Mauricio Herrera - timbales, conga, guiro

Yusnier Sánchez Bustamante - conga (tracks 1, 2, 4)
Marc Szammer - violin (tracks 3, 7, 8, 9)
Elena Rojas Crocker - violin (tracks 3, 7, 8, 9)
Francisco Salazar - violin (tracks 1, 2, 6)
Everhard Parades - violin (tracks 1, 2, 6)
Samuel Marchán - viola
Aristides Rivas - cello (tracks 3, 5, 7, 8, 9)
Brian Sanders - cello (tracks 1, 2, 6)


Purchasing Info:

El Cumbanchero can be purchased:

Direct from the artist

From Jazzheads (MP3)
From (CD)
From (MP3)
From Amazon UK (CD)
From Amazon UK (MP3)
From Tesco (MP3)
From (MP3)

Most major CD stores and other online sources

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