DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

AC Timba Jazz – Neurosis, Blu-ray (2012)

Cuban jazz sounds dynamic on Blu-ray audio.

Published on January 28, 2013

AC Timba Jazz – Neurosis, Blu-ray (2012)

Performers: Javier Vergara – saxophone; Bryan Velasco – piano; Carlitos Del Puerto – bass; Joey De Leon – congas; Jimmy Branly – drums
Studio: AIX Records AIX 85049 [11/13/2012]
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 1080i HD
Audio: PCM 2.0 (96kHz/24-bit); Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (96kHz/24-bit) (Audience Mix or Stage Mix); Dolby Digital 5.1; 2-Channel FLAC (96kHz/24-bit); 2-Channel MP3 (320 kbps); 2-Channel Headphone “Surround Mix” (48kHz/24-bit)
Length: 48 min.
Rating: ****

AC Timba Jazz is a cultural labor of love.  Juan Sanchez Oliva was a child prodigy (percussion) in his native Cuba. As a teen, he was influenced by Cuban Jazz Ensemble, and their conga player, Jorge “El Nino” Alfonso. Additionally Oliva was drawn to cutting edge jazz musicians like John Coltrane and Charlie Parker. The mixture of bop jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms resulted in Olivo joining Willie Bobo’s Pan-American Band. There he earned the nickname “Long John”, largely due to his lengthy conga solos. After The passing of Willie Bobo, he played with a variety of artists, including Dizzy Gillespie, Jackson Browne, Chick Corea and Kenny Loggins. Known for developing a new sound, “Jazz Rumbero”, his legacy was established with the creation of the AC Timba Jazz Project.

As the band name suggests, AC Timba Jazz embraces Cuban “timba” music together with bop jazz. The latest lineup of AC Timba Jazz (Javier Vergara/saxophone, Bryan Velasco/piano, Carlitos Del Puerto/bass, Joey DeLeon/congas and Jimmy Branly/drums) has released a Blu-ray recording of “Long John” Olivo compositions, Neurosis. Four extended tracks are an audio testament to the overall group cohesion that defines this musical genre (though a trifle short). As the opening title cut gets underway, Branly and De Leon are interconnected with furious syncopation. Del Puerto’s bass propels the rhythm in tightly constructed patterns. Piano counter -tempos by Velasco develop a layered effect. There is a dance vibe but that is altered by the bop-laden saxophone lines of Vergara. His playing washes over the jams. This is very effective and elevates the song beyond folk. All of the tunes provide ample opportunity for solos and group improvisation.

The subtlety and varied texture of the ensemble shimmers on “Ago Elegua”. At nearly 14 minutes in length, the sound unfolds in nuanced “movements”. The listener is drawn into the flow and eruptive flourishes. Above all, the engineering of this disc is superior. While state-of-the-art, the production does not utilize equalization, significant compression, artificial reverberation and overdubbing.

There are four audio options. Both the PCM stereo (audience Mix) and Dolby Digital 5.1 are excellent. The percussion/drum mix is especially crisp. The saxophone tonality (even during upper register “squawk”) is deep and rich. Additionally, there are three 2-channel, audio-only versions that can be downloaded. Blu-ray audio quality is comparable to SACD. The video footage is precise with attention to clarity. There are wide shots of the quartet, and various soloist close-ups, including some overhead shots. Some of the low club-like lighting has distracting color shading, but it never detracts from the performance.

AC Timba Jazz’s Neurosis meshes musical tradition with cutting-edge technology,

TrackList: Neurosis; Shakata; San Tropez; Ago Elegua

—Robbie Gerson

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