ft. Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez
Horacio “El Negro” Hernández | Drums
Dany Noel | Bass
Jorge Vera | Piano and keyboard
Amik Guerra | Trumpet
HORACIO “EL NEGRO” HERNANDEZ
“El Negro” follows the influences from Arturo Sandoval, Paquito D’Rivera, Ignacio Berroa, and others. His drumming reflects a musical heritage rooted in folklore tradition.
“El Negro” first gained international recognition as the drummer for the pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba and his group Proyecto. Since leaving Cuba in 1990, Hernandez has played in the U.S. with many different pop, rock, jazz and Latin jazz acts, including on many albums, some of which have received Grammy awards, including Roy Hargrove’s Havana (1997), Carlos Santana’s Supernatural (1999), Alejandro Sanz’ No es lo mismo (2003) and Eddie Palmieri’s Listen Here (2005). Hernández owns a Grammy award for the 2001 Latin Jazz album Live at the Blue Note with Michel Camilo (piano) and Charles Flores (bass). Since 2004, Hernandez has recorded and toured with his own band, Italuba.
In July 2010, Hernández was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music. He was presented with the award at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Perugia, Italy by Berklee’s former Vice President of Academic Affairs, Larry Monroe.
In 2011 he recorded the album Proposición, with a band including Dany Noel Martinez, Giovanni Hidalgo, Ivan Lewis, Dario Chiazzolino, Ivan Bridon and Amik Guerra. In the same year he played at the Modern Drummer Festival with his new band The New World Order; the concert was released on the Modern Drummer Festival 2011 DVD. Also in 2011 he began playing with Marc Ribot y Los Cubanos Postizos.
In 2016 Hernández joined Salazh Trio, a jazz fusion group featuring bassist Jeroen Paul Thesseling. Their debut work Circulations was released in December 2017.
Of all the Afro-Cuban musicians playing the “conventional” [if you could at all call it that] North American – or “Jazz” – drum sets there is no one more dazzling to watch and listen to than Horacio “El Negro” Hernández. He can play at extraordinary speeds with both hands, never losing control of pulse or time, he seems to have wrists – not lubricated by but – made of liquid and his hand-eye-foot co-ordination is diabolically brilliant. This miraculous dexterity enables him to morph from montuno to swing, mix things up with machine-gun-like “bebop” rhythms as well as odd metres… and best of all he can make it all sound perfect and exactly where it belongs – all in the space of a fine or six minute song.
With “El Negro” commanding proceedings from his drum chair and Joaquín Betancourt at the helm of affairs [of] the rest of the ensemble, the Italuba Big Band pull off this perfect repertoire showing off their mastery of music redolent of soaring melodies, luscious harmonies, and dynamic, meteoric rhythms that dive in and out of the traditional and the contemporary. There is a magnificent balance of composition and invention throughout. Soli are brief, meaningful and always make elegant musical statements and soloists ascend in soaring parabolas and loops above the melodies before returning the music to its original themes. Music such as “Pati Metal” and Divertimento” are dense in orchestration, and you made ever- aware of the textural strands that make the music unique.
Meanwhile, speaking of the “unique”, it should not be lost on all of us, especially as we have been starved of live music [Cuban music in particular] for almost a year and a half. So what better way than to enjoy a live performance vicariously than on this double-DVD of what is easily one of the most memorable performances of that year – and to do so not only by “listening” to the music, but experiencing it as if it were “live” on DVD? As a production as well, this is a dizzying [sometimes a little too dizzying] production with 13 cameras, including the Go-Pro cameras now-ubiquitous on sound-stages worldwide. The jump-cuts may make things feel a little rushed at times, but nevertheless it is still an enormously rewarding musical experience.
Raul Da Gama latinjazznet.com
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