Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Manolo Badrena's solo debut, which features Jaco Pastorius, will be reissued on CD next month

Originally recorded in 1979 for A&M, "Manolo" -- the debut album of the Puerto Rican percussionist extraordinaire Manolo Badrena as a leader, conceived after he left Weather Report -- comes out in Japan (by Universal) on March 25, 2015. Actually, that's the second Japanese reissue of the disc, which had been previously released in digital format 15 years ago.

It's a killer album that features bassists Jaco Pastorius and Abe Laboriel, keyboard genius Hugo Fattoruso and his wife at the time Maria de Fatima Fattoruso (who plays acoustic guitar and does the lead vocals on "Clube da Esquina," with Lani Hall backing her), trumpeter-trombonist Gary Gazaway, guitarist Carlos Rios, drummer Jorge Fattoruso, and violinist Alfredo de la Fe. Manolo plays percussion, drums, congas, tabla, synthesizer, Chinese gongs, tone bells, timbales, cencerro, chekere, bata drums and guiro. And sings!

Except for "Clube da Esquina" (written by Milton Nascimento, Lo Borges & Marcio Borges), all tunes were composed by Badrena, with Sybil Thomas providing lyrics & vocals to the samba "Canelas," on which Hugo Fattoruso plays cavaquinho and Manolo is heard on surdo (Brazilian bass drum). The song "Yana" is dedicated to singer Yana Purim.

But it's impossible to pick highlights in such a massive album. As Herb Alperts, who co-produced the sessions, states in his notes: "Manolo took me on a trip way beyond anything I had ever been exposed to before. I used to be rather quick to judge music based on melody, form and content. Manolo inadverthely showed me another equally important ingredient called ENERGY, and threre's no shortage here. Thanks 'Nolo', I love you."

Voted "best percussionist of 2014" on the 36th Annual Jazz Station Awards, Manolo Badrena is currently a member of Ahmad Jamal's ensemble.

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