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William Cepeda and Afrorican Jazz: Branching Out (Expandiendo Raices)

On the second outing with his group Afrorican Jazz, trombonist/conch-shell player/bandleader William Cepeda once again seeks to marry jazz with the traditional beats and textures of Puerto Rico. Building on ideas molded on his previous release, My Roots and Beyond, Cepeda sheds light on the much ignored bomba y plena rhythms from Loiza Aldea, where he is from, by grafting hard-bop melodies and harmonies with folkloric sounds that are all over Branching Out (Expandiendo Raices).

The scope is richer and deeper this time around with provocative cross-pollinations like “Bomba Flamenca,” “Cumba Blues” and “Toshiko” fusing a variety of traditional world instruments, including a Japanese koto, into spectacular sonic frameworks. “Cosa Nuestra” draws from the jibaro music of the mountains and its aguinaldos, here sung by troubadour Andres Jimenes with Yomo Toro, a virtuoso of the folkloric cuatro guitar. The pieces unfold like snapshots along a rural island road where scenes jump out at you. “Let’s Have Fun,” “The Next Plena” and “Bomba Pa’ Loiza” are pure joy!

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