Anyone who plays any type of drum should check out JAZZAMBIA – no fusion album in recent memory has delivered more tantalizing rhythms. Percussionist Paoli Mejías is behind this intense, joyously free Afro-Cuban jazz, with help from soulful bandmates like bassist Hans Glawishnig, pianist Luis Perdomo, and drummers Antonio Sánchez and Tony Escapa. Sanchez’s playing somehow combines total commitment and focus with an embracing looseness and abandon. He toys with the 6/8 time of “Diaspora” alongside the high-flying alto of Miguel Zenón, goes toe to toe with Mejías on “El Tintero, and creates a beautiful 11/8 backdrop for the percussionist on “Links”. Escapa just crushes the tricky nines of “Logos” and creates a perfect montuno for Mejías’s floor-rattling riffs on “Fragment”. Grooving and sparring together, Mejías and the drummers seem to lift each other up a few extra notches.
- Robin Tolleson