Part of the reason why this music is so compelling is certainly due to the splendid accord with which this ensemble reads these arrangements, all of which are the brainchild of Corina Bartra who – more than anything else – has a prodigious gift for expressing herself in the Afro-Peruvian idiom. Miss Bartra sweeps through the musical topography of Peru in twelve noteworthy compositions. The angular 6/8 momentum of the Zamacueca; the rhythmic drive of the Landó with its Afro-Peruvian compound 3/4-12/8 dance pulse appear in the fine mixture of new work by Miss Bartra. Each piece is unique and the repertoire skips from the electrifying rhythms of “El Dorado” surging forcefully in the elemental mysticism first in “Magia y Ritmo Ancestral”, then in “Enlightened Heart” and finally in her explosive “Warriors of the Sun”.
Miss Bartra has a hand in all of the vibrant arrangements, which also feature the work of Roberto Pérez, Rafael Aquije, with horn arrangements by saxophonist, Bruce Williamson and the up-and-coming Jonathan Saraga, a trumpeter with a very bright future, both of whom are featured on a number of songs respectively. Also included in the Afro Peruvian New Trends Orchestra directed by Miss Bartra, are several other remarkable musicians – Justin Mullins, featured here on trumpet but also a very accomplished French-horn player, saxophonists Jay Rodriguez, Todd Anderson, trombonists Amadis Dunkel and Andy Hunter, pianist Zaccai Curtis and several other stellar musicians. Two wonderful rhythm sections are anchored by pianists Hyuna Park and Mr. Curtis, bassists Michael Gam and Moto Fukushima, drummer, Vince Cherico and Perico Díaz.
This recording is just over an hour long and as each song winds down one finds oneself wanting more. Fortunately the songs themselves are all – bar one – over 3 minutes long and even that song, “Come on and Dance”, happily, feels as if it will, somehow, never end. Moreover, the listener is also rewarded with a carousel-like ride around the vibrant music and dance of Peru with an emphasis, of course, on canción criolla with its colourful rhythms that include Festejo, Landó, Socabon, Pregon, Zamacueca, and Alcatraz. Miss Bartra employs the forms dutifully, but being a musician who worships at the altar of originality, wonderful innovations are built into songs, leaving her special imprint on each – including on those with telltale signs in English titles such as “You took me by Surprise’ and “Come on and Dance”.
Innovative repertoire as lyrical as this, rooted in the thriving Afro-Peruvian tradition comes as like a generous endowment to the library of South American music that is setting the world aflame. Miss Bartra must be proud of her work and justifiably so. And the Afro-Peruvian New Trends Orchestra has proved that they are a living force with their memorable 2017 album, Uniting Beats.
Track list – 1: El Dorado; 2: Yambambo; 3: Magia y Ritmo Ancestral; 4: Guajira Son; 5: Aruhe; 6: A Saca Camote Con el Pie; 7: Minor Misdeaminor; 8: Enlightened Heart; 9: You Took Me by Surprise; 10: More Than You Can Afford; 11: Come On and Dance; 12: Warriors of the Sun
Personnel – The Afro Peruvian New Trends Orchestra – Corina Bartra: Artistic Director; Jonathan Saraga: trumpet (1, 2, 4, 6, 11); Bryan Davis: trumpet (1, 2, 4, 6, 11); Sam Hoyt: trumpet (3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12); Justin Mullin: trumpet (3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12); Amadis Dunkel: trombone (1, 2, 4, 6, 11); Andy Hunter: trombone (3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12); Todd Anderson: tenor saxophone (all tracks); Jay Rodriguez: tenor saxophone (1, 2, 4, 6, 11); Charles Lee: alto saxophone (1, 2, 4, 6, 11); Eric Neveloff: alto saxophone (1, 2, 4, 6, 11); Bruce Williamson: alto saxophone (3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12); Derrick James: alto saxophone and flute (3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12); Hyuna Park: piano (1, 2, 5, 7, 11); Zaccai Curtis: piano (3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12); Michael Gam: bass (1, 2, 4, 6, 11); Moto Fukushima: bass (3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 12); Vince Cherico: drums (all tracks); Perico Diaz: cajón (all tracks), congas and bongos (1, 2, 4, 6, 11)
Released – 2017
Label – Blue Spiral Records
Runtime – 1:07:14