Cuban-enriched bop has its share of dynamic artists from percussionist Desi Arnaz in the ‘50s to present day saxophonist Paul Carlon. Today, flugelhornist/trumpet player Ernie Hammes keeps the flames of Cuban-bop lit with a sheen of club embossed atmospherics. Hammes’ new recording with his band Cubop is entitled Sanfrancha. The album is a carnival of dance-infused tunes from the soft Latin shimmies of “Bossa For Donata” to the party rhythm of the title track. Wherever Hammes takes his audience, it is bonded by sunny harmonies and uplifting grooves.
In “Whass’ Up,” Hammes’ flugelhorn is percolating while supported by the bouncing piano keys of Pierre-Alain Goualch and the sprightly jumps of saxophonist Johannes Muller. The rhythm section of upright bassist Sam Happel, drummer Chris Strik and percussionist Eric Durrer keep the beats rollicking as the horns do their dance. The Latin accents on “Robusta” engage the listener in a playful romp as Bart Platteau showers the tune in fluid, swirling patterns and the carnival confetti produced by Hammes and Muller’s horns add frilly ringlets into the mix. The horns smoothen out on “Bolero Para Michaela” to a creamy consistency before picking up the pace with the jolly gait of “Christmas In Rio.” These numbers do not force people to dissect their inner workings but just to enjoy the merriment in the musician’s vibe as they swivel and weave into each other, which they do beautifully in the title track. The bluesy hue of “Piccolo Blues” has a jazzy cabaret feel, and the whisking flutters of the horns in “When Harry Met Sammy” has a casino flare.
Produced by Hammes, Sanfrancha is laden with Cuban bop patterns and dance rhythms that coax the listener onto the dancefloor. The music mirrors the good life and transports the listener there track after track like a cocktail that never loses its flavor.
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