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Music Review: Jorge Reyes – De Todo Un Poco (A Little Bit of Everything)

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Jorge Reyes has been one of the great innovators of the double-bass in Cuban music, layering his sound with such profound depth that his instrument isn’t confined to the back of the orchestra but rather takes center stage. He plays it like a lead instrument, coaxing melodies out of the lower register and easily moving between roles as a support rhythmic player to a central character in his compositions.

With De Todo Un Poco (A Little bit of Everything), Reyes bounces merrily between both roles. He also serves as bandleader on each track and is the composer of many of the album’s instrumentals. Jorge’s command of his quintet (Reyes on bass, Carlos Averhoff Jr. on tenor sax, Emilio Morales on piano, Giraldo Piloto on drums, and Adel González on percussion) is notable not only in the flexibility of the music but also in the interaction between the band’s instruments. Each song is like a conversation.

That interaction works best when Reyes is experimenting with different tempos and making alterations in the rhythms. The album’s opener, “Do-Do,” bounces bravely as an introduction and quickly changes pace with its enthusiastic percussion.

Reyes employs related Cuban flavours throughout De Todo Un Poco, straying from his roots just long enough to play with other melodies and tempos. On “Contraste,” the use of tap percussion and drums flows logically from the song’s vivacious introduction and Reyes’ bass takes the lead. Percussion explodes on “Descarga 2003,” a rousing number highlighted by claps and a rock-and-roll melody.

The tender vocals of Evelyn Garcia Marquez are featured on three songs, adding depth to the record. “Realidad y Fantasia” from Cesar Partillo de La Luz has a jazz standard feel, while the nature of “Obsesión” focuses on the heart-rending dialogue between Marquez’s beautiful lamentations and Reyes accompanying bass.

Reyes ends things with the bass and percussion interchange of “Con-Tumba y Con-Trabajo” and leads it into Billy Strayhorn’s standard “Take the A Train,” giving the latter a pile of amped-up Cuban tang and an flood of percussion to fill in the gaps. Reyes’ take on Strayhorn’s inimitable standard is energetic and high-spirited.

Jorge Reyes’ dazzling De Todo Un Poco really does supply a little bit of everything. His knack for using rhythms of folk, blues, jazz, Cuban and world music, and even a little bit of rock and roll shows his zeal for music and his need to expose the world to the endless possibilities of music.

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