by Francisco Aguabella


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There is no shortage of conguero-led Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz groups in the world. With so many household names like Poncho Sanchez and Ray Barretto to choose from, why stop and take notice of the slightly below the radar Francisco Aguabella? All questions will be answered and doubt will disappear at the first listen to 1999's H2O. While other percussionist/bandleaders have their roots firmly in the mambo dance craze of the '50s and '60s, Aguabella's music is born of rhumba. The difference is palpable. From his distinct, clear, sharp tone to his enigmatic, quinto-driven phrasing, Francisco, though a staple of the New York scene for many decades, never left Havana. Producer Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez, a Latin jazz headliner himself, managed to capture the raw, no-frills energy of Aguabella's style on H2O beautifully. Sonically, the record has the closeness and intensity of first-row seats in a small, smoky club. Stylistically a little less folkloric than Francisco's first release, Agua de Cuba, there's a dance sensibility that drives the record. The arrangements are plenty jazzy, but without losing the visceral punch that so many bandleaders sacrifice. The selections with vocals are definitely salsa, but without being homogenized or slick, maintaining the funky quality so often sacrificed in preference toward shiny production. If there is such a thing, Aguabella is both the modern master and original gangster of Afro-Cuban music.

Product Details

Release Date: 02/08/2000
Label: Ubiquity
UPC: 0780661502425
catalogNumber: 15024

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Francisco Aguabella   Primary Artist,Percussion,Conga,Leader,Vocals,Bata
Charles Owens   Saxophone
Yomo Toro   Trumpet
Nengue Hernandez   Timbales,Vocals
Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez   Vocals
David Romero   Bongos
Joan Rotondi   Piano
Ed Smith   Drums,Snare Drums
Dan Weinstein   Trombone
Joe Rotondi   Piano
Neugue Hernández   Timbales
Jonathan Pintoff   Bass
Luis Mariachis Gonzales   Trumpet

Technical Credits

Orlando "Cachaito" Lopez   Producer
Eduardo Reyes   Arranger

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