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Los Angeles has long been a comfortable and supportive home for Afro-Cuban or Latin jazz dating back to the days of Cal Tjader and his West Coast spin on this genre. Recent releases confirm that the tradition continues as strong as ever –Bobby Matos’Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble with Acknowledgement (LifeForcejazz). Matos began his career in New York during the Latin music explosion of the ‘60s that gave birth to salsa. He’s released a number of solid records throughout the years, including one of this reviewer’s favorites, “Chango’s Dance” (Ubiquity). Always a paragon of good taste, this Timbalero and percussionist surrounds himself with solid serious musicians and gives them space to improvise. Here we find John B. Williams on bass, Robertito Melendez on congas, Theo Saunders on piano, Frank Fontaine Jr. on tenor sax and flute, and Dan Weinstein performing the amazing triple feat of playing trombone, violin, and viola. “Acknowledgement” ,as the title alludes, includes excellent and unique versions of three John Coltrane tunes, the holy jazz touchstone of “A Love Supreme-Acknwledgement”, "Tunji”, featuring Weinstein on viola, and “Equinox”. Matos kicks off the recording with his own composition “Manhattan Mozambique” an uptempo scorcher that announces this is a serious endeavor, but it’ll make you get up and move too. Most of the tunes are instrumental and a couple of Charanga based tunes put Afro-Cuban poetry into a serious swing. “Cuando Baila Ramon”, a politically aware poem by Bay Area musician/poet Avotcja, is given emotional life by Denise Cook, and Matos’ adaptation of Nicolas Guillen is vocalized with gusto by Ismael “East” Carlo. “Chango’s Jazz” is a hip original that appropiately showcases the rhythm section and features Matos’ son Jud on guiro, bell, and checkere, allowing some great soloing. Theo Saunders shows a fluid grace on the ivories as he gives the melody a workout on Matos’ tune “Evelyn”, while Fontaine’s flute and Weinstein’s viola solos are nothing short of beautiful. “Chango’s Charanga” should even satisfy the hard salsa audience who easily twist like pretzels to this one. “Drum Dance” at the end is a short percussive burst that allows Matos to break out on the conga and sign off on a job well done. ----- Robert Leaver THE BEAT magazine vol.24 #5, 2005 - Reviewer: THE BEAT –(volume 24, no.5. /Robert Leaver

Bobby Matos, Acknowledgement Percussionist Bobby Matos is a transplanted New Yorican who has been making music on the west coast for many years. A deep love for the music of John Coltrane links this recording with the CD by the Jazz on the Latin Side All Stars. In contrast to José Rizo's big-band approach to the music of the legendary saxophonist, Matos takes a smaller-scale, more personal perspective. The featured horn player on this session is Frank Fontaine, Jr., whose rich, dark tone is a perfect conduit for Coltrane's compositions. The first 'Trane tune on the CD is an eight-and-a-half minute version of "A Love Supreme." With a band half the size of the JLS All Stars, the Bobby Matos Ensemble musicians have plenty of room to explore Coltrane's harmonic ideas. Rather than the dynamic drumming of Elvin Jones, however, a quick clave beat and Afro-Cuban drumming compel the music forward. "Tunji," the second Coltrane cut on the CD, features soulful solos by Dan Weinstein on viola and Theo Saunders on piano. "Equinox" is also given an eight-minute-plus workout, with the talented Mr. Weinstein on trombone (shades of the late Chombo Silva, who doubled on violin and sax). The rest of the tunes on Acknowledgement are original compositions by Matos that make the most of his charanga-esque format. "Song for Jud" is an upbeat number that is dedicated to Matos' son and features an energetic conga solo by Robertito Melendez. "Motivos de Jazz" is a slow-tempo tune that showcases fine interplay between muted trumpet and violin. The music on this CD is more suited to a small jazz club than large dance hall. The recording is appropriately intimate, with a notable sense of air around the musicians in the studio. I was particularly impressed with Matos' expressive cymbal work throughout the recording. I highly recommend either of these CDs. Buy both of them and stuff a Latin Jazz lover's Christmas stocking with joy. Victor Chavira/ - Reviewer: Victor Chavira

It’s like stepping into an intelligent, knowing world, listening to a Bobby Matos record. This one, featuring a handful of later John Coltrane compositions, along with pieces by Matos, is Latin jazz at its best. Performed by a swinging group—Denise Cook does a piece of poetry—that navigates the descargas beautifully, the music radiates literacy. And the musicians more than do justice to “A Love Supreme.” Highly Recommended. (Peter Watrous, 2005-08-21) - Reviewer: Peter Watrous

This is poetry for the feet...Spiritual Pan Africanism...Latin Jazz impossible to sit down to..This is a musical salad made up of the best of our history...This music is "Our story", you better get yourself some. -----Avotcja ...KPFK FM(Berkely,CA) & KPOO FM (San Fransisco,CA) - Reviewer: Avotcja....KPOO FM & KPFA FM

This CD is an excellent fusion of Latin and African genres, with some of the best bilingual swingers from either world demonstrating how effective the glue of jazz can be. Matos has contributed 10 originals and added three John Coltrane classics: “ A Love Supreme,” “Tunji,” and “Equinox.” It’s easy to savor some flavor here, from Matos’ hypnotic congas and the versatility of Dan Weinstein, who doubles eloquently on trombone, violin, and viola, to the tenor work by Frank Fontaine Jr., who boasts his own sound and never tries to phrase like Trane. Other tasty bits include the montuno-filled comping by pianist Theo Saunders and, above all the MVP-level support from bassist John B. Williams. Listen to his growl on “Supreme”: the famous four-note mantra is unyielding in it’s firmness. Williams’ playing on Matos’ lovely ballad “Evelyn,” with its tricky chromatic changes, is particularly striking, and his intonation is flawless. ….Harvey Siders, Jazz Times March 2006 - Jazztimes, harvey Siders

Veteran conguero-timbalero Bobby Matos returns with a hard driving, highly percussive project that features compositions by him as well as some by John Coltrane(“A Love Supreme”, “Tunji”, and “Equinox”). There is no fluff here: it’s deep, mature material arranged by someone who is clearly vested in the traditions of both Jazz and Latin. Matos has been around the block, and he is good at articulating the nuances within a composition, so when he handles a piece like Coltrane’s “Tunji” the depth and the emotion are there. Kudos to his fine band with Frank Fontaine Jr. on sax, trumpeter Elliott Caine, Danny Weinstein on trombone and violin, bassist John B. Williams, and Theo Saunders on piano. “Acknowledgement” is on my list for one of the best Latin Jazz records of 2005. - - Bruce Pollin, DESCARGA

Bobby Matos and his Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble honor the memory of John Coltrane while celebrating with dancing feet and flying fingers.The leader's timbales turn over a lively syncopation while the band improvises at length on themes both by Coltrane and Matos. Bassist John B. Williams lays down the rhythmic foundation for "A Love Supreme" as tenor saxophonist Frank Fontaine Jr. interprets "Acknowledgement" with passion and devotion. The music inspires. Pianist Theo Saunders adds poignant reflections and Williams solos eloquently, while Matos and his expanded percussion section stir the rhythmic pot with natural ingrediants. Guiro, claves, congas, checkere and the leaders timbales give the session a hearty glow. Ismael "East" Carlo sings "Songoro" with a dramatic flair that benefits from his resonant baritone voice. Flute and chorus complete the formula which lets the band pull from tradition. Coltrane's "Tunji" and "Equinox" feature Fontaine's tenor along with the band and Dan Weinstein on viola and trombone, respectively. Together, Matos and his ensemble soak up the jazz flavors and surround them with a heartfelt Latin music perspective. The mood allows room for freedom of expression while delivering a powerful rhythmic blow. The session closes with "Drum Dance" which features Matos on congas and timbales in a traditional affair, honoring the masters who've shown us the way. Mongo Santamaria, Tito Puente, and Bobby Matos have made a significant impact on the development of Latin jazz, and this album extends that focus seamlessly. - L.A. Jazz Scene, Jim Santella

Bobby Matos Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble “Acknowledgement” (Life Force Jazz Records) Based out of Los Angeles, California, percussionist/ bandleader Bobby Matos has gradually built up a strong reputation for producing cutting edge Latin jazz internationally for more than four decades. This latest release titled Acknowledgement finds Matos in excellent company with Theo Saunders ( piano), Eliseo Borrereo and John B. Williams (bass), Frank Fontaine (sax), Dan Weinstein (trombone/violin), and percussionists Robertito Melendez and Jud Matos( Bobby’s son). Always equally versed in interpreting classic standards as well as presenting original compositions starting with the cover track A Love Supreme-Acknowledgement, Equinox, and Tunji. Original tracks include my personal favorites Manhattan Mozambique, Motivos de Jazz, Soy Lucumi, Chango’s Charanga, and Songoro. Special guest musicians on this recording include Andy Harlow (flute), Elliot Caine (trumpet), and vocalists Denise Cook, Rogelio Mitchell, and actor Ismael “East” Carlo. Sit back and indulge in 13 tracks of righteous music rooted in the spirit of jazz and the rhythms of the Caribbean, something we call Latin jazz. ----Rudy Mangual, Latin Beat magazine (Sept. 2005) - Latin Beat Magazine - by Rudy Mangual

Cantante: Bobby Matos Album: Acknowledgement Data: 01/09/2005 Di questo superbo album di puro Latin Jazz ( con forti tendenze afro-cubane ) segnalo il brano 'Chango's Charanga', salsa-charanga che ritengo possa essere usato con successo in discoteca e sopratutto ( sempre nel contesto 'discoteca' ) ' Soy lucumi' bellissima trasposizione Son con accenti jazzistici . In questa produzione 2005 tutte le tracks sono composte dallo stesso Bobby Matos, eccetto ' A love supreme acknowledgement' e ' Tunij' di John Coiltrane. - In ogni caso un album da non perdere per gli amanti del Latin Jazz piu' raffinato , prodotto dalla discografica 'Lifeforce Jazz'. A cura di: Roberto Rabbi - WWW.SALSA.IT / Roberto Rabbi

Bobby Matos is both a Latin Jazz pioneer and a legendary figure whose name is mentioned in the same breath with such icons as Puente, Santamaria and Palmieri. He's an artist who has rolled with the punches over a four decade career and has always come out on top. But even more importantly, he continues to be a supremely creative artist who never settles for second best. Fans are always confident that any new Bobby Matos release will exceed expectations, and 'Acknowledgment' is no exception. It's gritty and soul searching. It swings, It speaks the language of el jazz Latino with confidence. - Jazziz & Hispanic magazines, Mark Holston



Made By Hand

Mambo Jazz

Live at M.O.C.A.


Chango's Dance

Collage-Afro Cuban Jazz

My Latin Soul
Box Set/Compilation


Also Appears On

The Rough Guide to Mambo

The Very Best of Latin Jazz [Nascente]

Viva Cubop!, Vol. 3: More Jazz the Afro Cuban Way

Yo! Hot Latin Funk from el Barrio

Afro-Cuban Grooves, Vol. 4 [Wagram]

No Categories, Vol. 4: Ubiquity Compilation

Stop and Listen, Vol. 4

Latin Beat Magazine: Real Latin Jazz: Percussion, Piano & Strings

Viva Cubop!, Vol. 2: Dance the Afro-Cuban Way

Afro-Cuban Grooves, Vol. 4 [Melodie]

Blue Bossa, Vol. 2


Viva Cubop!: Jazz the Afro-Cuban Way

No Categories, Vol. 1: Ubiquity Compilation

Stop and Listen, Vol. 4



Bronx born Bobby Matos began playing music beating on pots and pans in Grandma’s apartment and went on to backstage informal lessons with conga drum masters Patato Valdez and Mongo Santamaria.

His first gigs were in the early ˜60’s “beat '" bohemian “ Greenwich Village Cafes, but he soon found himself playing in every type of venue; from Bronx dance halls to Carnegie Hall, to elegant supper clubs, Central Park Concerts, Off Broadway theaters, and ˜After Hours” clubs in El Barrio.

He was inspired and encouraged to play timbales by Willie Bobo and Tito Puente, and in the late ˜60s attended the New School and Manhattan School of Music studying composition and arranging. Around this exciting time for Latin Music in N.Y., he recorded “My Latin Soul” for Philips Records. This recording eventually became a much prized cult classic influencing many ˜70’s and ˜80’s Acid Jazz groups on both sides of the Atlantic.

After touring and recording with artists like Ben Vereen, Bette Midler, Fred Neil, Jim Croce, Ray Rivera, Joe Loco, Miriam Makeeba, and many others, Bobby relocated to Los Angeles where he began experimenting with an Afro Cuban Jazz band where he could blend (and bend) musical elements from Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Wayne Shorter, Eddie Palmieri, and the rich legacy of Afro Cuban music.

In the ˜80’s and ˜90’s, he recorded several albums, most notably 5 critically acclaimed CDs for Ubiquity Records’ “Cubop” label. He also produced CDs for Ray Armando, Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers, Dave Pike, John Santos, and Jack Costanzo. In 2004 he released the critically acclaimed "Made By Hand", a live recording on the artist’s collective Life Force Jazz records,

Bobby’s newest release on Life Force Jazz records contains nine original compositions and three Afro Latin arrangements of John Coltrane compositions, along with an updated band that features power players like Theo Saunders - piano; John B. Williams - bass; Robertito Melendez - congas; Frank Fontaine - flute and tenor sax; Dan Weinstein - trombone and violin; and Bobby's son Jud on percussion. Mambo, Bembe, and Jazz Latino represent healing energy, meditation, and medicine encoded as music. When musicians listen and communicate with each other and their audience on this spiritual level, the music becomes much more than a performance.