By Michael Jackson | Published June 2018
“Guasábara” means conflict or battle in the Taíno language of Puerto Rico, according to drummer Fernando García. He looks pretty pugnacious on the cover here, but is in essence relishing the tussle of folkloric cross rhythms that makes this Guasábara Puerto Rico a masterful mash-up of interlacing meter.
The opener, “Audubon,” conjures a street scene from García’s old neighborhood in Washington Heights, with layered time, moving in tandem like Geneva watch drives. Bassist Dan Martínez and classically trained conguero Victor Pablo are key to the clockwork of these compositions. And the unmistakable bounce of saxophonist Miguel Zenón, with his smeary articulation and dance around the beat, adds a star-turn on the title track. García dubs “Ideas Convergentes” a delta of outflowing concepts and “like a boat ride [where] you’re constantly shifting on the tides and waves.”
“The Element” sounds M-Base-infused, though García credits Argentinian pianist Guillermo Klein as an influence here: gripping, sinewy stuff from a disciplined new guard.
Guasábara Puerto Rico: Audubon; Ideas Convergentes; Guasábara Puerto Rico; Healing Prayer; The Element; Guaynabo Mi Tambor; Se Va; Tiempo. (49:13)
Personnel: Fernando García, drums, vocals (6); Dan Martínez, bass; Gabriel Chakarji, piano; Gabriel Vicéns, guitar; Jan Kus, tenor saxophone; Victor Pablo, barril, congas; Miguel Zenón, alto saxophone (3).