Hablando Con Juana does not want to fit in a slot. It is
a recording of, for the most part, well travelled Spanish based Cuban ex-pats. It includes influences and interests they, or Alain Pérez, have picked up along the way.
There is more than a whiff of Timba. This is unsurprising, given Pérez and Ivan “Melón” Lewis respectively played bass and keyboards with Issac Delgado during his golden years in the mid 1990’s, and, in Pérez’s case, beyond. Percussionist Yuri Nogueira’s career also overlapped Pérez’s time with Issac and he went on to play timbales/drums on Manolito y Su Trabuco’s ground breaking CD, Marcando La Distancia.
The band leader played piano with Irakere before working with Issac, and, both now based in Spain, he and Lewis move in the world of Latin Jazz. Another ex-Irakere musician makes his appearance here, trumpeter Juan Munguía.
Pérez also brings to this his interest in Flamenco, including a guest appearance by Josemi Carmona.
The lead vocal is not typical of Latin Jazz or Timba and neither is the spattering of harmonica and accordion. I must admit to having struggled a bit with his voice, but that’s his voice, it’s not trying to be something it’s not. In the end, I respect and accept that. It kind of works.
There are a couple of tracks an adventurous DJ might get away with, with the right crowd, dropped at the right time. For the most part, this is either too slow, gentle or rhythmically variable to make it on any dance scene I know. I suspect this will stay home, in the car or wherever, and give anyone who likes unconventional Cuban Jazz a lot of pleasure. Recommended.