Editor's Pick: Best of 2012
Available as highly quality mp3/320
or audiophile FLAC
Aguankó, the ensemble led by percussionist and composer Alberto Nacíf, is a talented group of Michigan based musicians who are steeped in the tradition of jazz infused son-salsa. In La Bicileta
, for example, you might hear shades of Conjunto Libre or Eddie Palmieri's La Perfecta orchestra. And, like the Fort Apache Band, there are Afro-Cuban folkloric rhythms, as in the percussive rumba Elemental
. The overall feel on Elemental
is relaxed; the jazz is sophisticated, but accessible in essential ways. It's graced with a driving funk and sabor that comes only from years of developing a musical sensibility that speaks from both the heart and soul of the band members. With Paul Vornhagen, Javier Barrios, Patrick Prouty, Wesley Reynoso, Paul Finkbeiner, Russ Miller, Chris Smith, Alex Nacif and special guest percussionist José "Pepe" Espinosa.
Top notch stuff, this. Very Highly Recommended
. - elW
Alberto Nacif - Congas, Kalimba, Quinto, Okonkolo, Itotele, Vocals
José "Pepe" Espinosa - Bongo, Hand Bell, Timbales, Iya, Guiro, Minor Percussion, Vocals
Javier Barrios - Timbales
Paul Finkbeiner - Trumpet
Russ Miller - Saxophone
Patrick Prouty - Bass
Wesley Reynoso - Piano
Chris Smith - Trombone
Paul Vornhagen - Soprano Sax
Alex Nacif - Keyboard, Synthesizer
Alberto Nacif was born in the isthmus state of Oaxaca in Mexico's west coast where Cuban derived rhythms were part of the everyday music. He began playing conga and bongo drums at a young age with local musicians. He immigrated to Michigan as a teen, and became involved in the music scene by playing with Jimmy Stefanson's "La Combinacion." Originator and host of the Cuban Fantasy program on WEMU-FM for 10 years, Alberto honed his percussion skills with conga/bongo master Armando Peraza (of Santana fame). Alberto also studied Cuban percussion with Esteban Vega Bacallao "Cha-Cha," Jesus Alfonso, Danilo Perez, of Los Muñequitos De Matanzas, Tomas "Panga" Ramos of Cubanismo, and Manuel "Anga" Diaz, of Irakere. He has performed nationally and internationally with Dizzy Gillespie, John Faddis, Jane Bunnett, Munequitos de Matanzas, and Frank Emilio Flynn.
He led the Latin Jazz group “Cubop” in the early 1990s, and has recorded with the Lunar Octet, Francisco Mora, and Marcus Belgrave. Nacif was also on the board of directors at University Musical Society and was instrumental in hosting many Cuban music shows including Tito Puente, Celia Cruz Albita, El Canario, Arturo Sandoval, Afro Cuban All Stars, Buena Vista Social Club, Ibrahim Ferrer, Cubanismo! and Los Muñequitos de Matanzas. He co-directs a busy medical practice in Brighton and composes music and plays regularly with Tumbao Bravo.