Mezcla direct from Cuba
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Mezcla direct from Cuba

Centro Habana, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba | Established. Jan 01, 1985 | INDIE

Centro Habana, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba | INDIE
Established on Jan, 1985
Band World Jazz

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Oct
02
Mezcla direct from Cuba @ Kuumbwa Jazz Center

Santa Cruz, California, United States

Santa Cruz, California, United States

Oct
01
Mezcla direct from Cuba @ Yoshi's Oakland

Oakland, California, United States

Oakland, California, United States

Sep
20
Mezcla direct from Cuba @ Icicle Creek Music Center

Leavenworth, Washington, United States

Leavenworth, Washington, United States

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Music

Press


"2015 Interview with Pablo Menéndez on PRI"

When he was 14, Paul Menendez went to Havana in 1966 to study music. He stayed...changed his name to Pablo, and ever since he's lived in Cuba, where he's now a famous jazz musician. Sitting on his Havana rooftop, Pablo tells Steve Paulson this remarkable story. - PRI Radio


"JAZZ: Nice view from Cuba"


JAZZ / St. Martin : Nice view from Cuba
By Mike Zwerin
The New York Times, December 18, 2002

Pablo Menendez's funky Yoruba, Afro-Cuban, salsa, bebop-fusion septet Mezcla (or "mixture") went island-hopping this month from Cuba to St. Martin to perform at the first edition of a hopefully annual Gourmet Jazz Festival. Carlos Santana has called Mezcla "the cleanest, freshest water I have ever tasted." St. Martin lays a claim to being the "gastronomic capital of the Caribbean." The esteemed Cuban pianist and bandleader Chucho Valdes topped the bill.

When Menendez moved to Cuba from the San Francisco Bay area at the age of 14, his father advised him to "remember that it's a Third World island. The people will resent you if you try to make them fit into your definition of things. So just keep your mouth shut and try to figure out what makes them tick." Menendez followed that advice, "Although," he says with a jolly grin over a plate of lean duck with chocolate sauce, "I obviously no longer keep my mouth shut."

Menendez has been an American residing in Cuba for 36 years. With some oversimplification, he compares his legal status to "a foreigner with a green card in the U.S." He's talkative, ebullient, a born communicator with a wide musical culture. His hot band works the Havana clubs and tours Europe and the United States regularly. Its members today include the young Cuban saxophonist Orlando Sanchez and the trumpet player Mayquel Gonzalez. Mezcla's latest album, "Akimba," released by Khaeon Records, has been nominated for a Grammy in the Latin Jazz category.

Menendez arrived in Havana in 1966, a 14-year-old who was accompanying his mother, the blues singer Barbara Dane, on guitar. They had just worked at New York's Café au Go Go as part of a triple bill with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and the Chambers Brothers. Dane had recorded with Earl Hines, Memphis Slim and others. One journalist called her "this white woman saving the blues."

"My mother was interested in other cultures and she booked several concerts in Havana," Menendez says: "She was prime-time news there. Everybody in Cuba knew about her." Growing up in Oakland, he was accustomed to such house guests as the bluesmen Jesse Fuller, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and the folk singer Pete Seeger.

Menendez enrolled in the Escuela National de Arte. He lived in the dormitory, his tuition, rent, medical care, laundry and so on taken care of. He studied music and learned Spanish well enough to acquire a Cuban accent. (His grandfather was born in Spain.) By now, even his English is Cuban accented. One year later, at the age of 15, he married Andria Santana, a drama student, now an internationally known Spanish-language actress; they are still married. He has become "part of the local scenery."

The first time Menendez went home, in the late '60s, he took a merchant steamer to Canada. Back then you could only fly from Cuba to the United States via Paris, Madrid, Prague or Moscow. Later, it was possible to change planes in Jamaica, he arrived at the airport in New York to find a customs agent "rubbing his hands with glee. He called me over and said: 'You've been to Jamaica?' I tried to explain that it was just in transit but he went through my baggage looking for cannabis. When he finally realized that I was actually coming from Havana, his wires got totally crossed — it was like a short circuit. He looked at my American passport and asked me: 'So what have you got; rum and cigars?'

"People wonder why there is so much good Cuban music. Is it inbreeding or something in the water or what? Mostly, it's a strong musical tradition combined with good education. Musicians are a sort of elite in Cuba. We are subsidized with a regular salary. It's ridiculously low if you think in dollar terms, but we also get subsidized food, have no medical expenses and our kids' education is free. This is augmented by our hard currency gigs, which get tax breaks. My wife and I live in a nice subsidized house one block from the beach in Miramar.

"Music is a major Cuban export and the government knows that now. I was in Berlin when the Wall came down, I was in Nicaragua when the Sandinistas were in power, in L.A. when the National Guard was called up. My mother and I were chased by Marcos's soldiers when we played for anti-war G.I.s in the Philippines, and I was in Cuba while people were jumping on rafts.

"When I visit the States I see a lot of musicians who have almost the identical skills as I do. They're bi-lingual, bi-cultural, they know salsa music, play guitar, lead bands, produce. Seeing them I can get a concrete picture of what my lifestyle would be if I ever moved back. They are under so much more stress than I am. In New York, musicians have to work like 20 hours a day to make a living. And they are forced to make an amazing amount of compromises that in my life are just not necessary." - The New York Times


"Pablo Menéndez & Mezcla: Pure Mezcla"

To merely suggest that this album: Pablo Menéndez & Mezcla: Pure Mezcla – Direct from Cuba Live at Yoshi’s Oakland, is just a fusion of Afro-Cuban and Jazz idioms would be doing it a great injustice. This molten mix of “Mezcla de oro azul y el cegamiento brillante”; colours so powerful that they touch not only the sense of sight, but also stir the depths of the very soul. The sizzling hot guitar melded in with wildly fibrillating percussion and the pizzicato harmonics of the breathtaking curlicue of roistering bass line brings the Orishas to life and underpins what sounds like an Afro-Cuban joyful shout. While there have been many albums where musicians have experimented with various permutations and combinations of instruments this ensemble that has been put together by the Oakland, California-born, Cuba-based guitarist Pablo Menéndez is unique for the manner in which it continues to carve its own niche with an eclectic Jazz mix as African ‘hi-life’ rhythms collide with guitarist Pablo Menéndez’s distorted rock-style solos. Throughout the music has a rippling Afro-Latin Jazz groove that builds almost explosively under Mr. Menéndez’s complex, soaring guitar lines.

It is hard to imagine what the group could do to better the magnificent opening track; a masterful version of Chucho Valdés’ classic piece “Mambo Influenciado”. And while nothing could really top that, the visceral energy of the music continues track-after-track. It behoves the musicians to maintain such vigour throughout and they do not disappoint. In fact, the band injects an old-school cinematic quality into a roistering, percussive rumbling groove, also alternating that with a loose funky one. And by way of contrast the band also swings on “I’ll See You in C.U.B.A” and though the version of “’Round Midnight” is not as reflective and crepuscular than that played by Thelonious Monk and others, it is definitely worth listening to over and over again. Pablo Menéndez seems to be at the pinnacle of his powers and leads his band of merry men right where he is on “Oyá-Echubelekeo” and “Ákete Oba Oba” . The guitarist is also at the height of his powers throughout the record and may even scale greater heights on subsequent adventures, but even if he never achieves anything better than this album, he has reason to be proud. The opener is a joyous, dancing piece; a feeling that engages you and never lets up until the end of the album. The music on “Hijos de la Mezcla” features a thoughtful violin solo that is almost elegiac. Bassist José Hermida combines forces with the percussionists Octavio Rodríguez and Roberto “Capitán” Smith to make the rhythm section something breathtaking to behold.

The musicians continue to ring in the changes in mood, structure and tempo for subsequent songs making for a constantly interesting programme. The considerable degree of balance and integration of melody, harmony and rhythm, of composition and improvisation, of exploration, individuality and tradition is maintained throughout. What a fabulous record this is!

Track List: Mambo Influenciado; Hijos de la Mezcla; Lo que me Amarra Aquí; I’ll See You in C.U.B.A; Suzi’s Mood; Oya-Echubelekeo; Ákete Oba Oba; ‘Round Midnight; Imbe Imbe Mayeyé; El Solar de la Cueva del Humo; El Camino se Hace del Humo; Lenguasá.

Personnel: Pablo Menéndez: guitar and vocals; Octavio Rodríguez: percussion and vocals; Roberto “Capitán” Smith: percussion and vocals; Julio Valdés: keyboards, violin and vocals; José Hermida: bass and vocals.

Label: Tilford Productions
Release date: January 2015
Website: mezcla.org
Buy music on: LPM | amazon - latinjazznet.com


"Pablo Menendez: Our Cat in Havana"

Pablo Menendez : Our Cat in Havana
By Mike Zwerin

ST. MARTIN, 19 December 2002—Earlier this month, Pablo Menendez's funky Yoruba, Afro-Cuban, salsa, bebop fusion septet Mezcla ("mixture") went island-hopping from Cuba to St Martin to perform at the first edition of a hopefully annual Gourmet Jazz Festival. St. Martin claims to be the "gastronomic capital of the Caribbean." Carlos Santana has called Mezcla "the cleanest, freshest water I have ever tasted." The esteemed Cuban pianist/bandleader Chucho Valdes topped the bill.

When Menendez moved to Cuba from the San Francisco Bay area at the age of 14, his father advised him to "remember that it's a third world island. The people will resent you if you try to make them fit into your definition of things. So just keep your mouth shut and try to figure out what makes them tick." He followed the advice; "although," he says with a grin over a plate of lean duck with chocolate sauce: "I obviously no longer keep my mouth shut."

Menendez has been an American residing in Cuba for 36 years. With some oversimplification, he compares his legal status to "a foreigner with a green card in the US." He's talkative, ebullient, a born communicator with a wide musical culture and his hot band works Havana clubs and tours Europe and the US regularly. Current members include the young Cuban lions saxophonist Orlando Sanchez and trumpeter Mayquel Gonzalez. Mezcla's latest album "Akimba" (Khaeon Records) has been nominated for a Grammy in the Latin Jazz category.

Menendez arrived in Havana in 1966, a 14-year old accompanying his mother the blues singer Barbara Dane on guitar. They had just worked at New York's Café Au Go Go as part of a triple bill with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and the Chambers Brothers. Dane had recorded with Earl Hines, Memphis Slim and others. One journalist called her "this white woman saving the blues."

Growing up in Oakland, he was accustomed to houseguests such as bluesmen Jesse Fuller, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee and folk singer Pete Seeger. "My mother was interested in other cultures and she booked several concerts in Havana," Menendez says: "She was prime time news there. Everybody in Cuba knew about her."

He enrolled in the Escuela National de Arte. Living in the dormitory, his tuition, rent, medical care, laundry and so on were taken care of. He studied music and learned Spanish well enough to acquire a Cuban accent. (His grandfather was born in Spain.) By now, even his English is Cuban accented. One year later, at the age of 15, he married Andria Santana, a drama student, now an internationally known Spanish-language actress; they are still married. He has become "part of the local scenery."

The first time Menendez returned home in the late '60s, it was by merchant steamer to Canada. At the time, you could only fly to the US via Paris, Madrid, Prague or Moscow. Later, when it was for a while possible to change planes in Kingston, Jamaica, he arrived at JFK to find a customs agent who was, "rubbing his hands with glee. He called me over and said: 'You've been to Jamaica?' I tried to explain that it was just in transit but he went through my baggage looking for cannabis. When he finally realized that I was actually coming from Havana, his wires got totally crossed - it was like a short circuit. He looked at my American passport and asked me: 'So what have you got; rum and cigars?'

"People wonder why there is so much good Cuban music. Is it inbreeding or something in the water or what? Mostly, it's a strong musical tradition combined with good education. Musicians are a sort of elite in Cuba. We are subsidized with a regular salary. It's ridiculously low if you think in dollar terms, but we also get subsidized food, have no medical expenses and our kids's education is free. This is augmented by our hard currency gigs, which get tax breaks. My wife and I live in a nice subsidized house one block from the beach in Miramar."

"Music is a major Cuban export and the government knows that now. I was in Berlin when The Wall came down, I was in Nicaragua when the Sandistas were in power, in LA when the National Guard was called up, my mother and I were chased by Marcos's soldiers when we played for anti-war GIs in the Philippines, and I was in Cuba while people were jumping on rafts."

"When I visit the States I see a lot of musicians who have almost the identical skills as I do. They're bi-lingual, bi-cultural, they know salsa music, play guitar, lead bands, produce. Seeing them I can get a concrete picture of what my lifestyle would be if I ever moved back. They are under so much more stress than I am. In New York, musicians have to work like 20 hours a day to make a living; and they are forced to make an amazing amount of compromises that in my life are just not necessary."

Mike Zwerin has been jazz and rock critic for the International Herald Tribune for the last twenty years. He was also the European correspondent for The Village Voice. Zwerin is currently writing a book called "The Parisian Jazz Chronicles : An Improvisational Memoir", for Yale University Press and he is the jazz editor of Culturekiosque.com.

Copyright © 1996 - 2006 Euromedia Group Ltd.
All Rights Reserved - The International Herald Tribune


""I'll See You in Cuba" All About Jazz"

"I'll See you in Cuba by Pablo Menendez and Mezcla"
By Raul d'Gamma Rose.
All About Jazz 4/1/2010.

I'll See You in Cuba is an extraordinary celebration of Cuba's dance and song. It is a fiercely vivid account of a culture infused with the most electrifying elements of Afro-Caribbean heritage. As a musical odyssey it holds its own with the very best of Irakere and the Buena Vista Social Club. Pablo Menéndez and the wonderful musicians of Mezcla set the world alight with a ravishing blend of blues, soul, and jazz idioms that collide with the "son," "guaracha," "guajira," "bolero," and "danzon." These they grind into a fine mixture of pure joy and unforgettable musical ecstasy.

But nothing they do is predictable, nor will any charts conform to what is expected of Cuban music. On the contrary, a surprise appears at every turn. Menéndez puts his large and indelible stamp on the repertoire with burning guitar licks. His opening to "Chicoy's Blues" is a classic example of the raw energy and guttural harmonics that characterize his playing. Although his influence on the repertoire is broad and all-encompassing, there are other wonderful charts throughout the album, which opens with a classic, racy track, "Big Brecker," written and fronted by tenor saxophonist Orlando Sánchez in the style of and in homage to the late Michael Brecker.

"¿Quién Tiene Ritmo?" is a clever take on George Gershwin's 1930 classic "I Got Rhythm" and introduces the extraordinary voice of flutist Magela Herrera. A technical virtuoso, Herrera plays with a warmth and soul far beyond her years. Her solos impress with their unexpected and joyous twists as she turns harmonic invention inside out. No wonder she is a familiar face on the musical scene in Cuba wherever hot and memorable descarga sessions can be heard. Herrera is also an accomplished pianist and gives a moving account of herself on Mezcla's rendition of Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight," as she does elsewhere on the album.

Trumpeter Mayquel González is another impressive instrumentalist, who tears up the melodies of "Chucho's Blues" along with its composer, Orlando Sánchez. González is also a constant reminder that there is great depth in the heritage of Cuba's trumpet virtuosos from men such as Félix Chappotín and "Chocolate" Armenteros to "El Guajiro" Mirabal, Jesús Alemañy, Luis Escalante and Arturo "Chico" O'Farrill. As if to drive home the point, González takes another white-hot solo on "'Round Midnight," a track that is turned into a remarkable "bolero." The ensemble also hosts some fine musicians—pianists Alejandro Vargas and José Luis Pacheco, percussionists Samuel Formell and Julio Noroña, and flugelhorn player Roberto Garcia—all from the celebrated Cuban group, Los Van Van, who flavor "Homenaje a Afro Cuba."

This is music that will echo with excitement long after its last notes on "Chicoy's 'Son'" have died down.

Track listing: Big Brecker; ¿Quién Tiene Ritmo?; El Médico de Los Pianos (For Benjamin Treuhaft); I'll See You In C.U.B.A; Chicoy's Blues; Oslo; Chucho's Blues; 'Round Midnight; Homenaje a Afro Cuba; Chicoy's "Son."

Personnel: Pablo Menéndez: guitar, vocals, musical director; Magela Herrera: flute, vocals, piano (1, 4, 8); Octavio Rodriguez: percussion; Mayquel González: trumpet, flugelhorn; Orlando Sánchez: tenor saxophone, piano (1, 5, 6, 7); Néstor Rodriguez: tenor saxophone (3, 9); Ruy Adrián López-Nussa: drums (1, 3, 6); Oliver Valdés: drums (5, 7); Renier Mendoza: drums (4, 8, 9); Ernesto Hermida: bass (1-3, 5, 7); José Hermida: drums (4, 6, 8, 9); Alejandro Vargas: piano (9); José Luis Pacheco: piano (7); Roberto Garcia: flugelhorn (9); Samuel Formell: timbales; Julio Noroña: guiro; "Las Elas": vocals (2, 3, 8).
- All About Jazz


"Latin Jazz Corner's Album Of The Week: I’ll See You In Cuba"

I’ll See You in Cuba
Pablo Menéndez & Mezcla
Zoho Music

by Chip Boaz

Latin Jazz artists find ways to combine Latin rhythms with all types of jazz approaches; musicians with a connection to rock styles often chose the rocky route of integrating jazz fusion. At one point, this choice would have reflected the music’s vanguard element - in the sixties and seventies, artists like Miles Davis, Weather Report, and Return to Forever experimented with electronics and the integration of rock rhythms. They rode a cutting edge that involved finding new contexts for improvisation and new ways to shape the jazz language. Somewhere along the line, fusion unfortunately lost its jazz edge and strayed more towards instrumental pop music. When the excitement of jazz-rock and the energy of electronic instruments pushed some jazz artists into star status, several artists took a more commercial route and made their music more accessible to a wider audience. The danger of stepping into fusion today is falling too deep into that instrumental pop lineage; Latin Jazz groups that experiment with fusion settings run the risk of becoming Latin Rock groups or instrumental salsa bands. Artists need to find an authentic way to put together Latin rhythms, rock ideals, and electronic instruments with that jazz edge. Throwing those all pieces together provides a jumbled mixture that requires a balance of each different element. Guitarist Pablo Menéndez and his group Mezcla bravely maintain that jazz edge as they travel through fusion ideals on I’ll See You in Cuba.

An Affinity For Fusion
The group displays an affinity for fusion on several tracks, freely mixing contemporary ideas with Cuban rhythms and serious jazz improvisation. Tenor saxophonist Orlando Sánchez improvises feverishly over drummer Ruy Adrián López-Nussa burning uptempo swing on “Big Brecker” until the whole band leaps into a ferociously virtuosic melody over a steaming rumba. Sánchez twists and turns through the racing solo cycle with an edgy tone and a creative soulfulness, paying a fitting tribute to the song’s namesake, legendary sax player Michael Brecker. Trumpet player Máyquel González follows Sánchez’s lead with an angular improvisation that displays creative melodic ingenuity, giving way to bass player Ernesto Hermida winding solo, filled with quick runs. Drummer Oliver Valdés lays down a funky groove complemented by funky fills on “Chucho’s Blues” before the wind players jump into a bluesy melody reminiscent of Irakere. Sánchez tears into an assertive improvisation over a stuttering rhythmic basis, building into a fiery statement from Gonzalez, who winds around the driving groove with a boppish finesse. Menéndez brings an ingrained sense of melodic invention to his statement, followed by a bluesy solo from pianist José Luis Pacheco, until the whole band explodes into a wild collective improvisation. Understated guitar licks drenched in echo wander into a subdued cha cha cha vamp on “Oslo” before Herrera, Menéndez, and Sánchez join together on a lush melodic statement. As the rhythm section shrinks into a sparse setting, Herrera sails through the texture, creating a introspective statement. After a brief interlude, Sánchez moves into an incredibly thin backdrop, building into the rhythm section’s return with an adventurous spirit. Mezcla interprets fusion with a wide birth on these tracks, paying tribute to some of the genre’s great musicians with their own distinct style.

Leaning Closer To Tradition
Menéndez and Mezcla balance stylistic elements with a group of pieces that lean closer to tradition without loosing the group’s unique slant. Menéndez’s catchy guitar vamp establish a distinctive groove that sits squarely between Cuban tradition and a modern world music feel on “Quién Teine Ritmo?” leading into a repeated percussive melody. Flautist Magela Herrera taps into a tipico sound with rhythmic phrasing that fits tightly around the clave, while bassist Ernesto Hermida builds a statement from short understated ideas. Menéndez wraps tasteful melodic ideas and witty quotes into a classy improvisation until the rhythm section opens into explosive solos from conguero Octavio Rodríguez and timbalero Samuel Formell. González and tenor saxophonist Néstor Rodríguez phrase the melody with an embedded sense of jazz swing on “Homenaje A Afro Cuba,” floating over a swirling snare drum rhythm and lush synthesizer patches. As the textures opens into a steady momentum, González thoughtfully improvises through a long series of ideas, pushing the band into a stirring climax. After a driving interlude, the band shrinks into drums and percussion, as Rodríguez displays a strong command over folkloric settings, improvising alone and eventually in conversation with González. Herrera, Rodríguez, and González race into a elegantly traditional melody over a danzon rhythm on “El Médico De Los Pianos,” countered by short melodic snippets from electric piano and distorted guitar. Menéndez finds the perfect contrast to the delicate setting with a raucous guitar tone, spinning lines that balance between rock and jazz. González flies into a wild melodic line on his improvisation, using sequences and quick steps outside the chord changes to building a tense dynamic into López-Nussa’s tasteful solo. The group creates a serious fusion on these tracks, using Afro-Cuban tradition as a starting point while exploring combinations of different ideas

Adding Surprises Into The Mix
Menéndez refuses to be typified throughout the recording, including several songs that play upon convention by adding surprises into the mix. Menéndez’s slicing tone takes command over a laid back blues shuffle on “Chicoy’s Blues,” allowing him to stretch out with defined authority. A sudden break sends the group charging into a double time rock groove, setting the stage for an energetic improvisation from Sánchez. González, Menéndez, and bassist Ernesto Hermida all fly over the driving groove with an aggressive investment, delivering memorable solos. The rhythm section establishes a mix between tin-pan alley and broadway on the Irving Berlin tune “I’ll See You In C.U.B.A.,” integrating a distinctly different flavor into the recording. The lyrics recall a flippant party atmosphere found in Havana during the fifties, foreshadowing the possibility of an over-commercialized post-Castro Cuba. González adds a strong authentic feel to the song with a muted trumpet solo that pulls phrasing directly from the Louis Armstrong book of licks. Menéndez introduces a steady vamp that segues into a bolero behind the classic melody of Thelonious Monk’s “‘Round Midnight,” which inherits a strong dose of drama in this setting. Solos continue over the churning bolero rhythm, with a clean guitar improvisation from Menéndez and a melodic statement from González. The band kicks into high gear with an assertive cha cha cha behind a repeated coro, setting the stage for a wild distorted solo from Menéndez and a fiery series of phrases from González. These tracks integrate some surprising directions into the recording, keeping the album fresh and displaying the group’s creative diversity.

Making A Serious Argument For Latin Jazz Fusion
Menéndez and Mezcla create a fluid statement on I’ll See You in Cuba that cleverly mixes elements of fusion with an unwavering dedication to jazz. Their repertoire mixes a compositional complexity with plenty of room for improvisatory statements, making their music both challenging and interesting. Stylistically, the group travels through many worlds, constantly finding ways to connect Afro-Cuban rhythms to funk, rock, and swing. Sánchez contributes several of the album’s most interesting pieces, revealing an influence from some of the great fusion bands, including the Brecker Brothers and Irakere. Menéndez shows a sensitivity to the group’s sonic landscape, often mixing traditional jazz instruments with electronic sounds, raging from keyboards to guitars. The electronics never overwhelm the mix, in fact they complement each track, adding essential colors into the group. Menéndez’s guitar acts as a major piece of this puzzle, adding a wide range of tonal colors from a reverb covered clean tone to raw distortion. The musicians improvise with a loose fluidity that translates directly to a traditional jazz setting, prioritizing their personal voices over the production of a product. Sánchez, González, and Herrera all emerge as outstanding soloists, placing equal doses of fire, style, and individual expression into their work. Menéndez and Mezcla display high level musicianship throughout I’ll See You in Cuba, producing a compelling collection of music that makes a serious argument for the continued exploration of Latin Jazz fusion.

- The Latin Jazz Corner


Discography

PURE MEZCLA (2015 Tilford Productions)

I’ll SEE YOU IN C.U.B.A. (2010 Zoho)
HAVANA BLUES MAMBO (2005 Zoho)
¡AKIMBA! (2002 Khaeon) Recorded live at the famous “La Zorra y el Cuervo” Jazz Club in Havana, Cuba
LAS PUERTAS ESTAN ABIERTAS (1999)
¡ROCASON! (1997)
CANTOS: LÁZARO ROS CON MEZCLA (1992 Intuition Records)
FRONTERAS DE SUEÑOS
(1990 Intuition Records)
SOMOS HIJOS DE LA MEZCLA
(1988 EGREM)

Photos

Bio

"Funky.... Ebullient.... Hot!" The New York Times

Mezcla, under the direction of Pablo Menendez, has been a part of the sound-track of the Cuban music scene for the past twenty-five years. A jazz ensemble fusing Afro-Cuban rhythms with yoruba and rock, Mezcla's music is a genuine celebration of the culture and musical roots of the Pearl of the Antilles. A ray of Havana sunshine that inspired Carlos Santana to call them “the cleanest, freshest water I have ever tasted!" Their latest CD, “I'll See You in C-U-B-A,” (ZOHO), was nominated for the Best of Latin Jazz Awards 2010 as were several of the group's soloists, and their CD "Akimba!," was nominated for a Latin Grammy. A multi-generational ensemble, Mezcla brings together several veteran masters with some the best of young jazz players on the scene today.

The all star septet includes conga master and Afro Cuban babalao priest Octavio Rodriguez, and trumpeter Mayquel Gonzalez (Irakere, JoJazz award recipient) as well as guitarist and band leader, Pablo Menendez.

Mezcla's 2014 U.S. Tour features an all-star ensemble led by guitarist Pablo “Mezcla” Menéndez, includes Afro Cuban babalao priest and conga/batá drum master, Octavio Rodríguez; celebrated super-percussionist Roberto Smith "El Capitán"; veteran bass-monster Jose Hermida and multi-instrumental wizard Julio Valdez.

"Pablo Menendez is not your average everyday Afro-Caribbean or Latin jazz musician. His vision of this music stretches back to traditional jazz and show tunes and up to electric urban blues, modern post-bop, Cuban or Puerto Rican music, and contemporary neo-bop spawned in the 1970s. As a guitarist he is strong individually in these varied styles or disciplines, but as a bandleader he stretches out even further, taking his Mezcla ensemble into these disciplines of jazz and music both beyond and including Latin sensibilities." Michael G. Nastos (Allmusic.com)