Bellita y Jazztumbata (1999)
Onelo Sonar/Motivos De Amar/Danzon A Mima/Gitana/Juegos/Glenda/Jazz Tumbata/Relax
Bellita is a Cuban jazz musician (full name Lilia Exposito Pino). She plays piano and sings in her band, Jazz Tumbata, which merge a melodic, laid-back, contemporary jazz style with traditional Cuban rhythms. It makes for a thoroughly intoxicating mix. The sound quality is breathtakingly excellent too. This was her debut album, I believe. She is still playing and releasing music as I write in 2019.
Check out the sumptuous, deep bass lines and infectious Cuban percussion on Onelo Sonar, which perfectly exemplifies the whole jazz/traditional Cuba fusion thing. The whole sound of it is marvellous, from the rhythm to Bellita's samba-style vocal. It sounds very Brazilian, vocally, but the percussion is unmistakably Cuban. Sometimes "scat" style vocal jazz improvisation irritates me, but Bellita's is actually a perfect accompaniment to the similarly inventive, ad-hoc sounding piano, bass and percussion interplay. Man, that bass solo near the end. Top quality.
Motivos De Amar definitely sounds Brazilian with its sensual Samba-influenced groove. It features an enticing "cheese-grater" backing sound. Danzon A Mima has some lovely, nonchalantly entrancing piano and more inviting rhythms. The vocal that appears half way through is very Cuban. The piano quality continues on the syncopated Gitana and its improvised, high-pitched vocals. Once more, the bass is superb. The pace increases in tempo for Juegos, a Santana-esque instrumental, minus Carlos's guitar, of course. Glenda is similarly irresistible, upbeat and seductive. The Cuban feel on this one is palpable.
Jazz Tumbata is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most "jazz" of all the tracks, with jazz piano and bass taking centre stage. The final track, Relax has another of those bass lines all over it. So, there we are, forty-odd minutes of top notch jazz and Latin fusion. Forty minutes is probably sufficient, but it is certainly a highly recommendable forty minutes.