New Latin Jazz Album Produced by José Valentino & His Students at Lee University. "Ahora Más Que Nunca
New Latin jazz album produced by José Valentino & his students at Lee University. "Ahora Más Que Nunca (featuring Benny Maldonado, Robert Acevedo, Jim Walker, & Jesse Pitts." Album available on iTunes, CDBaby, and Amazon.
Acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, educator, & composer, José Valentino, returns to the recording studio to document a set of nine original compositions & two arrangements with the impetus to create a musical manifesto encouraging Latinos around the world to embrace, celebrate, and showcase the richness and beauty of their cultures; hence the title, "Ahora Más Que Nunca." There is much to celebrate about being a Latino, especially when residing in the United States of America. Ahora Más Que Nunca (Now More Than Ever) encourages Latinos to flaunt their God-given strengths, talents, competencies, and artistic expressions, as well as their love towards others in order to tear down any cultural misconceptions that would otherwise impede the unification of our nation.
The album commences with "Celebración," a tribute to the legendary Latin jazz flutist, Dave Valentin, whose music was a profound influence on Valentino's musicianship. "Hot Cha-Chocolate" features a cool vibraphone & flute showcase, much like the music of Cal Tjader & Caribbean Jazz Project. "Somos Uno: Latin Jazz Suite" takes listeners on a vibrant musical journey synchronizing rumba genres (i.e., Mozambique, Guaguanco, & Yambu) with intricate melodies and fiery Latin jazz improvisations featuring Valentino (flute) and Jim Walker (piccolo); two musical forces of the flute who teamed up to pour out a powerful expression of 'unity in the midst of diversity.' Afterwards, the project transitions to a jolly composition with a danceable groove, percussive flute soloing, and a syncopated melody with "Las Cosas Complicadas." The music takes a restful turn with a gorgeous rendition of Beny Moré's "Como Fue" with the flute emulating the sound of the human voice when singing. Suddenly, the musical adrenaline kicks in with "Adrenalina" featuring a prowess performance by Benny Maldonado who recorded all the percussion and Valentino on flute, soprano saxophone, and bass guitar. The title track, "Ahora Mas Que Nunca" is a bata-drumming piece performed solely by Valentino; the interplay of the various drums and auxiliary percussion evokes the mandate for listeners to rise up and pursue their purpose in life. Valentino then chooses to relax a bit and plays just the bass guitar on a funky-fied rendition of Consuelo Velazquez's "Besame Mucho" which features two of his Lee University faculty colleague's - Nathan Warner (flugelhorn) and Alan Wyatt (tenor saxophone) - and Cienna Alida on vocals. Currently residing in Cleveland, Tennessee, Valentino teamed up with his student, Robert Acevedo Jr. who displays his Puerto Rican heritage on percussion with "Dos Boricuas en Tennessee." Then, Valentino plays a heartfelt melody imbedded with accompaniment that is rather dark and gritty to capture the essence of the neighborhoods he has worked in as a missionary with "El Barrio." And finally, the album concludes with a strong composition that evokes a feeling of Latino strength and pride with snarky improvisations on "Te Estoy Velando."
All in all, this album is sure to entice Latin jazz music lovers to reminisce, dance, laugh, cry, and celebrate. "Ahora Más Que Nunca" has music for everyone. Valentino carefully selected four musicians - three percussionists and one flutist [i.e., Benny Maldonado, Robert Acevedo Jr., Jim Walker, & Jesse Pitts] - to guest solo throughout the album - due to their profound friendships cultivated over the years; friendships that began as mentor-to-mentee relationships. Flute and percussion solos prevail throughout the album purposefully to represent the indicators of human life - heartbeat (percussion) and breathe (flutes). It is an album that celebrates the history, currency, and future of the genre of Latin jazz, as well as the people and cultures that have made it to be what it is today.
Artists: José Valentino, Benny Maldonado, Robert Acevedo, Jim Walker, & Jesse Pitts
José Valentino (flute, tenor & soprano saxophone, upright & electric bass, marimba & vibraphone, bata drums, keyboard)
Benny Maldonado (percussion)
Robert Acevedo (percussion)
Jim Walker (piccolo, alto flute, bass flute)
Jesse Pitts (drum set, percussion)
Bruno Miranda (piano - track 8)
Jonathan Thomas (drums - track 10)
Alan Wyatt (tenor saxophone - track 8)
Cienna Wesley (vocal - track 8)
Nathan Warner (flugelhorn - track 8)
Darius Hairston (electric guitar - track 8)
Yassel Puppo (keyboard, piano, upright bass - track 5)
Composer: José Valentino (All songs except tracks 5 & 8)
Arranger: José Valentino & Yassel Puppo (track 5), José Valentino & Cameron Ball (track 8)
Producers: Tito Ruiz, Giovanni Pérez, Jalil Mohammed, José Valentino
Editing/Mixing Engineers: Eduardo Jaramillo, Jessie Romero
Mastering Engineer: Bruno Miranda
Artwork: Chike Joseph Okwudiafor, Guillermo Maldonado
Album Notes: Cortney Ruiz, Sandra Resto-Ruiz
Recorded: Lee University School of Music
Record Label: JV Music Enterprises LLC.