Johnny Conga has given the impression that he is an exceptionally quiet musician, releasing one album, Breaking Skin in 2009 and now, Oye!. In reality, however, he has a long career spanning 45 years.
Unfortunately, though, his reputation among the cognoscenti and fans of Latin Jazz and its constituent idioms must rest on the heritage of these two albums. His 2009 release was a revelation: For here was a percussionist whose skill and virtuosity equaled if not exceeded most of the conga players and certainly rivaled some of the percussionists playing today. Three years after that episode Conga releases his follow-up. How does this measure up to that first, explosively beautiful album? Oye! is a more sophisticated album from one of the most talented percussionists playing today. In fact if anything it is an infinitely more musical record; one in which Mr. Conga has applied all of his skill, virtuosity and intellect.
Those are some characteristics Johnny Conga has in plenty. The proof is first in the repertoire that Mr. Conga has selected for this album. Wayne Shorter has a Latin side and the trombonist, Conrad Herwig recorded a marvelous album transcribing some of Mr. Shorter's classic charts. However Mr. Conga has also excelled at a task few would have dared to undertake: he has made a hypnotic and majestic transcription of Wayne Shorter's "Footprints". The chart has a certain menace to it when played on the saxophone as it is anyone's guess whose footprints Mr. Shorter speaks of; on the other hand these could be perceived as a generational thing as Mr. Shorter speaks of the musical ancestors with deep and ponderous respect. And this is exactly how Mr. Conga treats this classic chart.Read more ›
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