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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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A Latin Soul






1. Destinos
2. De Cuba y De Panama
3. Inner City Blues
4. Romantica
5. Llanera
6. Solo From the Heart
7. Volando
8. Mercedes
9. Decir Asere

Drummer Billy Cobham has played with most of the jazz greats over the years, including George Benson, Horace Silver, the Brecker brothers, John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis – as well as leading his own groups. He became famous as the powerhouse drummer of jazz fusion, rattling around the tomtoms at great speed. In later years he has become more subdued, although he can still display an impressive technique. Since 1992, when he became involved with WOMAD and played with African musicians and in Brazil, he seems to have become more interested in world music – perhaps because he was born in Panama before his family moved to New York when he was three. In 2002 he guested at WOMAD concerts with Asere, a Cuban group, and since then they have been working together when possible.

This DVD shows them in concert, with Billy Cobham mainly fitting in with Asere’s Cuban styles rather than adding much of his own. On Llanera he plays bongoes, but employing a fairly unadventurous rhythm. The old star drummer comes to the fore in Solo from the Heart, where Billy starts a drum feature with amazingly fast bass-drum beats. After he has had his say, Asere’s conga drummer gets a chance to shine, with Billy accompanying gently and Asere’s bass guitarist laying down a useful riff. This is a fascinating percussion conversation, with both drummers exercising restraint to produce music of subtlety and grace. Throughout the DVD, the overhead camera enables drum buffs to watch Cobham’s drumming from above as well as from the front and sides.

Asere is a fine band, with a particularly notable trumpeter and a lot of vocals. Members of the group appear in an interview segment of the DVD, talking about their influences from Cuba, where they were surrounded by music. Billy Cobham also talks about why he is working with Asere, especially because he feels he is getting back to his Panamanian roots.

The package also includes a bonus CD called Billy’s Montuno, containing live and studio recordings made between 2002 and 2006. The sleeve lists the members of Asere but doesn’t say who plays what. Anyway, they deserve a name check: Vicente Arencibia, Michael Padron, David Echevarria, Juan Alarcon, Michel Salazar, José Albar and Reinaldo Perez.

Tony Augarde


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