You are here:Home>CD Reviews>Latin Jazz / Latin Funk - CD Reviews>Lo Que Somos Lo Que Sea by Grupo Los Santos

Lo Que Somos Lo Que Sea by Grupo Los Santos

Some Latin jazz groups are able to extend the music out beyond the traditional forms and rhythms we all know and love. The New York City-based quartet Grupo los Santos make these sort of explorations a stock-in-trade on their 3rd independently-released CD, "Lo Que Somos Lo Que Sea". The 10 original compositions on this CD are steeped in rhythms from Cuba, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Spain, and the United States - sometimes several crop up in one tune, yet each retains its own identity within this universe of Latin music. Quite a feat, and one that can, perhaps, be chalked up to the group's 10 year existence. They really understand and respect the traditions, and they don't play like newcomers. They have the cultural and musical chops to experiment and come up with new and interesting hybrids that have all the spice and power of the source materials.

Despite their encyclopedic knowledge of Latin forms and rhythms, the most refreshing aspect of this CD is the band's basic sound. The combination of Paul Carlon's, rich, buttery tenor with Pete Smith's mellow fingerstyle acoustic guitar is somehow both surprising and familiar. On 'Manna' they sound a bit like an updated Getz and Gilberto, and Smith's acoustic imparts a folkish, traditional feel to 'A Dança dos Santos' - the tune’s twisted little Monk-ish 5/4 coda at the end is a pleasantly unexpected jolt. Also surprising is drummer William ‘Beaver’ Bausch's 'Absurdities and Atrocities'. This lovely waltz definitely has the Sephardic tinge - if you played this tune for me in a blindfold test, I would guess it was something on the Tzadik label. The CD’s other euro-centric track, "Toreja Kulo," taps into the Spanish flamenco tradition, adding the impressively percussive footwork of dancer Max Pollak to the mix. Throughout, Bausch’s ultra-prodigious drumset skills are applied in the most musical and sensitive ways, though he occasionally sounds like he’s employing an extra limb - or two. I particularly enjoyed the way he toyed with different tempos, time signatures, and rhythmic feels on the multi-sectioned burner "Clave 66."

Grupo los Santos is a strikingly cohesive Latin jazz unit with a distinctive sound. While firmly rooted in the folkloric traditions of Latin music worldwide, they have an irrepressible urge to explore and experiment - and this is what makes "Lo Que Somos Lo Que Sea" a totally rewarding listen. Highly recommended.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Grupo Los Santos
  • CD Title: Lo Que Somos Lo Que Sea
  • Genre: Latin Jazz / Latin Funk
  • Year Released: 2007
  • Record Label: Deep Tone Records
  • Tracks: Rumba In The Bronx; A Danca Dos Santos; Happified; Clave 66; Absurdities and Atrocities; Manna; Guajira Santa; Boogie Down Broder; Toreja Kulo; Pedrito la Vaca
  • Musicians: Paul Carlon - tenor saxophone Pete Smith - 9-string acoustic guitar; electric guitar David Ambrosio - acoustic bass William Beaver' Bausch - drums
  • Rating: Four Stars
Login to post comments