By Jim Hynes

Bámbula isthe debut album from New York-based bassist and composer Alex “Apolo” Ayala. It  celebrates his Afro-Puerto Rican culture, comments on his identity, and pays tribute to his late mother and grandmother. Over the course of seven original compositions and one interpretation, Ayala blends Afro-Caribbean styles with jazz traditions in a small combo that teems with percolating rhythms.

Ayala had obviously been thinking about his debut as a leader, determined to express his passions. His thoughts coalesced during the social unrest during the summer of 2020. George Floyd’s murder triggered reflections on Ayala’s Afro-Puerto Rican identity and heritage. The title Bámbula means “the memory of a forgotten place.” Ayala shares that the Kikongo (Bantu language) word is “the act of re-remembering who you are as a person, tapping into the collective unconscious. The Bámbula is the oldest known rhythm of the Bomba complex.” Bomba is Puerto Rico’s oldest and purest musical art form.

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