Tony Succar – Live At The Werheim Performing Arts Center – Mixtura Productions = CD: 79:14 + DVD (16:9, PCM Stereo): 94:17 ****:
(Jesus Mato – trumpet; Henry Paz – saxophone, flute; Ruben Caban – trombone; Goro Castillo – percussion, bongos; Mike Lozana – congas, cajon; Augustin Conti – bass; Mauricio Quiros – piano, keyboards; Sammy Gali – piano, keyboards; Mimy Succar – vocals; Alfredo Lugo – vocals; Tony Succar – timbales, cajon, maracas)
Tony Succar has assembled a stellar group of jazz musicians to coalesce rhythmic dance music. By covering compositions by legendary artists, he has taken on this challenge with audacity. The orchestration of the music is excellent. On the Herbie Hancock piece, “Eye Of The Hurricane”, tight horn arrangements segue into dazzling piano and synthesizer solos. All of the music is anchored by a cohesive, explosive percussion section, anchored by Succar. His timbales are forceful, as are the solos on cajon. Each song has musicality and verve. Clearly, he has a talent for selecting the appropriate instrumentation. Wayne Shorter’s “Adam’s Apple” is infused by trombone and flute runs that challenge the tight constructs. The Thelonius Monk opus, “Bemsha Swing”, weaves a tenor melody run into a phenomenal group percussion jam. Each track is vibrant and moves with brisk pace. Original compositions, including “Pa Oyichan” capture the style and thematic exploration. The musicians are very skilled, and display significant chemistry and liveliness. Even the band introductions are ebullient.
The CD is very listenable and engineered with precision. However, the DVD offers a greater opportunity to experience the enthusiastic play of the ensemble. Taut editing showcases the various techniques of the performers. Occasional black and white video is a nice touch. Succar’s stage presence is very evident, as he leads the band with self assurance and earnest zeal. The contribution of the vocalists, especially on “No Te Confundas”, is more suited to a visual medium. Mimy Succar’s band introductions are engaging and underline the diversity of the musicians. Members of The Afro Contempo Dance Theatre lend a hand on one number (“A Mi Manera”), giving some insight into Succar’s artistic vision.
While the musical framework of this project is structured and artistic, the ability to make it accessible elevates its significance. Whether you listen to the CD or watch the DVD, you will feel this music.
CD TrackList: Eye Of The Hurricane; Adam’s Apple; Pa Oyichan; Bemsha Swing; A Mi Manera; No Te Confudas
DVD TrackList: Adam’s Apple; Pa Oyichan; Bemsha Swing; A Mi Manera; No Te Confudas; No Te Confudas (Outro)
— Robbie Gerson