Musicians - especially jazz musicians, whose craft is in many ways an improvised form of communication - understand this principle inherently, perhaps better than any politician or diplomat could ever hope to. Vibraphonist Stefon Harris, saxophonist David Sánchez and trumpeter Christian Scott cross that divide in their new recording, Ninety Miles.
Recorded entirely in Havana, Cuba, with the help of some highly talented Cuban players - pianists Rember Duharte and Harold López-Nussa, each leading their own quartets - the nine-song set is an experiment that examines the fascinating chemical reaction that takes place when musicians from different cultures come together and converse in a common language that transcends mere words. The set also includes a DVD that is a sneak peek of the forthcoming documentary of the same name that chronicles the recording process of the album in Cuba.Â It will also include two bonus live performances of "City Sunrise" and "La Fiesta Va."
Harris, a four-time GRAMMY® nominated vibist-percussionist, is no stranger to adventurous collaborative projects. Harris contributes three tracks toÂ Ninety Miles.Â Â New arrangements of "Black Action Figure" and "This Too Shall Pass" and "Brown Belle Blues" written especially for this project.
Sánchez brings plenty of his own cross-cultural sensibilities to the project. Sánchez's "City Sunrise" was inspired by music from Cameroon. "It not only has a Cuban sound, but there are other elements there as well that give it a world groove." His second contribution, "The Forgotten Ones" - written for the people of post-Katrina New Orleans - is a quieter, more subtle piece that provides a contrast to some of the more energized tracks in the set.
On Ninety Miles, Scott taps into the Cuban roots that are not only a part of his home but his family history as well. "New Orleans is in many ways an extension of the Caribbean," Scott explains. "There are a lot of Cuban people in New Orleans as well as Dominican's and Haitian's...while I don't particularly think of myself as Cuban, it doesn't necessarily mean that I was not able to pick up on and appreciate certain aspects of the culture." The brilliance and innovation of Ninety Miles is only part of the story. The recording is also a clear statement about the power of music to unite in ways that politics and diplomacy can't.
Stefon Harris, David Sanchez & Christian Scott will perform their album release party at S.O.B.'s in NYC on June 21.
La Fiesta Va