Patois Records is fast becoming the go-to label for things musically superior in the realm of Afro-Caribbean music.
It is hard to find fault with anything they have produced so far—and this is not restricted to the ineffableWayne Wallace, the doyen of anything Afro-Caribbean on the West Coast of the United States.
The music of ritmos unidos is a case in point. This is a fascinating group of musicians who refuse to be hampered and tied down by genre-restricting divisions in music that seem to preoccupy marketers these days.
The suggestion of being “united” or being in “unison” is a fascinating one. It seems to resonate with the best music that is in the African idiom and that is touched by the developments that have been taking place for over a century in the United States.
The melding of Spanish dances and the hardnosed poly rhythms of the African Diaspora collide here with the inevitable music called jazz of the continent. The musicians of Ritmos Unidos catch this in what might easily be referred to as a musical dream-catcher. Then, as the percussionists -those batá players- sing in communion with the steel pans and the burnished sound of the horns and woodwinds, the music unfurls as if it were a heraldic and ecstatic voice.
It is assumed that Michael Spiro has much to do with this, but surely there are other grand masters who have a hand in shaping the music of this recording such as bassist Jeremy Allen, pianist Jamaal Baptiste who has that classic tumbao every pianist diving into the realm of Afro-Caribbean music must have.
This is said not forgetting the bright and sparkling work by Pat Harbison who functions as a heraldic voice instigated of course by the tenor saxophonist, Nate Johnson and the trombone of Wayne Wallace when he is called upon to lend a hand in the unison passages especially.
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