Truth Revolution Records is proud to announce the upcoming release of Bámbula, the debut album from New York-based bassist and composer Alex “Apolo” Ayala. Due out February 11, 2022, Bámbula is a remarkable celebration of his Afro-Puerto Rican culture, a rumination on identity and a stirring tribute to his late mother and grandmother. Over the course of seven original compositions and one reimagination, the San Juan-native artfully blends Afro-Caribbean styles with jazz language, making an impactful and impressive musical statement.
While Bámbula may be his first formal introduction as a leader, Ayala has established himself as an in-demand and distinctive artist on the New York City Latin Music and Jazz music circuits. His impressive resume includes performance credits with renowned Latin music giants such as Gilberto SantaRosa, Roberto Rohena, Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz, Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Mambo Legends Orchestra, Paoli Mejias, Ralph Irrizary, Giovanni Hidalgo, Edsel Gomez, and many, many others. Currently, he plays with the Antonio Hart Quartet, Mike Eckroth Latin Jazz Quartet, Trombeatz, Flavio Silva’s Break Free, and serves as the Musical Director of Los Pleneros de la 21.
With Bámbula, Ayala comes into his own as a leader. The album was heavily inspired by the social unrest that unfolded in the summer of 2020 as a result of the killing of George Floyd. “I found myself reflecting about both my race, and my ethnicity. A word that kept resonating in my mind was ‘identity.’ Specifically, Afro-Puerto Rican identity”,” Ayala shares. He also thought about his ancestors. With these sentiments in mind, Ayala began to construct what would become his debut album.
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. “Bomba is the music that our African ancestors brought with them to the Americas. It is the most authentic expression of Puerto Rican Blackness,” he reflects. Each song on Ayala’s debut has a purpose, and each is an homage and tribute to these ancestors, and specifically, his late mother and grandmother.
For the occasion, the bandleader turned to the rich Puerto Rican diaspora in New York City, employing an impressive crew of talented musicians. Consummate improviser and instrumentalist Ivan Renta displays an arresting lyricism and rhythmic control as the main melodic voice, supported by the vigorous drums and percussion of Fernando García and Nelson Mateo Gonzalez.
“Renta on saxophone was my first option from day one,” Ayala says while discussing his band. “He is a multilingual player equally at home in jazz and Afro-Puerto Rican languages. Garcia is a master in applying the languages of Bomba and the barril de bomba vocabulary into the drum set and Nelson Mateo Gonzalez is to me, the premier Afro-Puerto Rican drummer in town. His vast knowledge of the language Bomba and the bomba drum is amazing to behold.”
The bright “Café y Bomba” features the sultry voice of Anna Louise Andersson singing both lyrics and melodic parts that blend beautifully with the ensemble. “Anna Louise is like a breath of fresh air. Her voice is clean, her intonation is remarkable, and her vocal range and skill are incredible,” Ayala adds.
As a composer, Ayala finds compelling ways of orchestrating, resulting in the small ensemble truly maximizing the potential of their instruments. On “Bozales,” one can hear Renta doubling bass lines with the bandleader and playing rhythmic background parts while García and Gonzalez play intricate drum breaks in perfect unison. This is just one example where the sound is greater than the sum of its parts. Another highlight is “Jíbaro Negro” which features an outstanding solo by Ayala and displays the excellent synchronicty between García and Gonzalez. The record ends with an enigmatic arrangement of the “Tite” Curet Alonso Catalino classic “Las Caras Lindas,” a profound song about the beauty of Afro-Caribbean heritage. The group’s rendition offers a more subdued approach, making it a master stroke as the album’s closer.
Truth Revolution Records is proud to release Bámbula, the debut album from New York-based bassist and composer Alex “Apolo” Ayala this Friday, February 11, 2022, Bámbula, Ayala’s debut album as a leader, is a celebration of Afro-Puerto Rican culture, cultural identity and tribute to his late mother and grandmother. The album comfortably fuses jazz and Afro-Caribbean charms with the impact and musicality you’d expect from this distinctive artist. His resume includes collaborating with renowned Latin music giants such as Gilberto Santa Rosa, Roberto Rohena, Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Mambo Legends Orchestra, Paoli Mejias, Ralph Irrizary, Giovanni Hidalgo, and Edsel Gomez to name a few. He also plays with the Antonio Hart Quartet, Mike Eckroth Latin Jazz Quartet, Trombeatz, Flavio Silva’s Break Free, and serves as the Musical Director of Los Pleneros de la 21. He caught up with Occhi’s Darryl Yokley to discuss the album.
“Yes or No.” Artfully arranged by Kalí to leave his distinctive spin on the track, this piece was considered a must-have tip of the hat to one of his great influences. “To not have a Wayne song on my first album would have been like a sin for me!” proclaims Kalí. Pre-order the CD today!
Por Vicente Toledo Rohena
Para Fundación Nacional para la Cultura Popular
El sabroso ritmo musical del pianista, compositor y arreglista norteamericano Michael Eckroth, se sigue proliferando como pólvora y de manera natural.
Apasionado con la cadencia afro-latina y jazz latino, marca una versatilidad sonora en sus propuestas. Trabajos anteriores colaborativos con el cuarteto del guitarrista John Scofield, Orquesta Akokan y un propio trío, junto a los boricuas Alex ‘Apolo’ Ayala (bajo) y Joel Mateo (batería); le brinda a Eckroth la dirección necesaria para trazar una ruta personal y entregar buen producto de jazz latino.
Para leer el articulo completo, haga clic aquí.
Mike Boone is back and takes no prisoners! The title track of his upcoming album, Asynchronization is now available as a single featuring Mike and his prodigal soon, Mekhi Boone on drums. They are joined by Neil Podgurski on piano, Elliot Bild on trumpet and Adam Niewood on saxophone. This amazing single is available everywhere! Check it out!
by Jonathan Blackman
Pianist Michael Eckroth is not foreign to success. He’s worked with artists such as John Scofield, Ron McClure, Paul McCandless, and Eliot Zigmund. He’s equally adept at all styles of Latin music, having been a part of the Grammy-nominated Cuban project Orquestra Akokan, and he has served as a collaborator and musical director in numerous capacities. Furthermore, he has released many albums under his name and has just finished up another gem for us to enjoy.
The newest release by Mike Eckroth on Truth Revolution Recording Collective, entitled Plena, explodes to life from the opening track entitled “And so it goes.” The electrifying Plena is filled with amazing virtuosic solos from Eckroth and his cast, coupled with a rhythmic intensity led by Alex ‘Apolo” Aayal on bass, Joel Mata on drums, and Maurice- Herrera on congas that keeps the music sizzling from start to finish! “Summer of Love and Discontent” is a 6/8 Afro-Cuban filled with a variety of tonal colors and the trio configuration sees all members of the band shine with exquisite individual and collective artistry. The tonal scheme of the tune reflects the reminiscent nature of the title as well.
To read the full review click here
Truth Revolution Recording Collective is proud to release this single by the Michael Eckroth Group, Superspreader. This new single is available on all platforms!!
By Dave Sumner
This collective incorporates the work of six producers, 12 arrangers, and 44 musicians giving their individual takes on 17 classical pieces, all recorded under the constraints of pandemic lockdown conditions. Even with that heady premise, what results is a wonderful recording that has some modern jazz, some old-school, some Latin jazz, and some chamber jazz, and shakes out with the kind of tasteful straight-ahead sound on which Truth Revolution Records has established their reputation.
To view the article at BandCamp’s website click here.
- Bambula receives attention from ‘Making A Scene’ June 1, 2022
- Alex “Apolo” Ayala: Bambula in UK VIBE.ORG! May 28, 2022
- Bambula receives praise from Jazz Journal!!! May 26, 2022
- Melange in ShepherdExpress.com May 15, 2022
- New Afro-Cuban Creative Music, Percolating in New York: Josean Jacobo and Kali Rodriguez-Pena April 11, 2022