Asante & Benito Gonzales: Bringing the Flame Home
"Post-bop that makes extensive use of African, Latin, and Caribbean rhythms...a lively, unpredictable CD that
will appeal to anyone who likes his/her jazz with a big dose of world music...",according to All Music Guide.
Asante, the legendary master drummer from Ghana, discovered this red hot young lion of Latin piano—and promptly
brought him north to the U.S. For years, Asante and Benito have been honing a one-of-a-kind Latin jazz sound: a
cooking Latin front line backed by all-African hand percussion. Up front, Joe Ford, the Fort Apache Band’s alto
sax star, stokes the salsa fire alongside Benito’s effervescent piano. In back, nailing down classic meringue,
rumba and mambo grooves, Asante’s thunderous five-foot carved drums lead his African hand drum congregation. All
that’s spiced with hard-hitting timbales and rock-solid bass. The sonic impact of the big percussion and the wail
of the sax are utterly spectacular.
- 1. Koftown Vibe (Asante)
-Listen to Sample
- 2. Cool Breeze (B. Gonzalez)
-Listen to Sample
- 3. High Rainbow (B. GOnzalez)
- 4. Regards From Two Friends (Asante, B. Gonzalez)
- 5. Jungle King (Asante)
- 6. High Council (Asante)
-Listen to Full Song
- 7. Africa Must Unite (Asante)
- 8. Scientific and Prophylactic Therapeutics (Asante, B. Gonzalez)
- 9. The Sea Never Dries (Asante, B. Gonzalez)
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REVIEW by All Music Guide
The problem with being a jazz purist is that jazz was never really pure. Jazz was always multicultural -- back
when King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton were starting out, early Dixieland was influenced by everything from
blues, ragtime, and gospel to European classical to African, Latin, and Caribbean rhythms. So instead of trying
to hide jazz's multicultural nature, musicians should celebrate it -- which is what Asante does on Bringing the
Flame Home: From Havana to Africa. Asante, a drummer from the African country of Ghana, is joined by Venezuelan
pianist Benito Gonzales as well as saxophonist Joe Ford (of Fort Apache Band fame), bassist Gavin Fallow, and
various percussionists. Together, this group of African, Latino, and American musicians examines the
African/Latin/Caribbean connection in jazz. The music is, for the most part, instrumental post-bop, but it is
post-bop that makes extensive use of African, Latin, and Caribbean rhythms. Everything from calypso to Afro-Cuban
guaguancó to Dominican merengue to Ghanian rhythms is fair game for these improvisers, whose multiculturalism
always sounds organic rather than forced or contrived. And why shouldn't it? African rhythms had a major
influence on Latin and Caribbean music, both of which ended up influencing jazz as well as a lot of modern
African pop. Recorded in 2000, Bringing the Flame Home isn't innovative -- back in the '60s, there were plenty of
post-bop and hard bop artists who showed their appreciation of African, Latin, and Caribbean rhythms.
Nonetheless, this is a lively, unpredictable CD that will appeal to anyone who likes his/her jazz with a big
dose of world music. -Alex Henderson
REVIEW by Jazz Times
Questionable claims from the liner notes aside, such as the unproven notion that the Cuban guaguanco can be
directly traced to the Ghanaian agbadza, that rumba-which is a family of rhythms rather than just one-has some
demonstrated connection to "the more ancient ashod," or that the Dominican merengue of relatively recent origin
"is actually the traditional kpalongo rhythm of the Ga tribe," this CD of Afro-Latin music has a virally emotive,
Most of its charm derives from its live-to-two-track analog, endearingly dated feel and organic sound. At times,
however, the immediacy and vivacity of such recording and miking techniques overshadows much. In "Koftown Vibe,"
for example, a shaker is so loud that moments of finesse from pianist Benito Gonzales, arousing saxings from Joe
Ford and tantalizing marches and pluckings from bassist Gavin Fallow are either lost or seriously intruded upon.
The latter suffers the most throughout the album, though his mark is left and felt nonetheless. Ford's stellar
playing, however, makes him the torchbearer of the session. He's energetic enough to carry the band alone,
obliging enough not to do so, wise enough to vary the lingo of his fare, and a concocter of phrasings with
contemporary interest in a wide stylistic and sonic range. Gonzales features his encyclopedic chops with
particular strength in "Regards From Two Friends."
Asante and his fellow percussionists are basic Afro-Cuban drummers of impeccable taste, shining best when
playing closer to Africa than to Havana, New York, San Juan or even L.A. -Javier Quinones