“Back in the day” albums didn’t come in cheap little plastic boxes with credits in 3pt fonts. They were 13×13 works of fine art, more than worth the asking price. And they all had liner notes. Here’s that experience again – this time interactive. (Please feel free to leave plenty of comments below.)
- When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder
This is a classic old-time gospel song that’s been covered countless times by a broad spectrum of artists. I re-harmonized it and set it to a Soca groove, which is also the rhythmic foundation of Reggaeton. Glenn takes a great, Grappelli-esque fiddle solo. I had fun on the Dobro and Raul really showed his Cuban roots on the piano. Of course, Cookie and Ettienne set him up with a great “batucada” – that percussion section before the piano solo.
- Jerusalem’s Ridge
When I first heard Casey Driessen’s version of this Bill Monroe standard I was struck by his rhythmic approach, so typical of what an old time Cuban guajiro might do – albeit on tres or conga drums. Inspired, I created my own arrangement, a “Miami Mix” if you will, as a vehicle to narrate the Bill Monroe (and a certain Cuban exile’s) story in the Spanish language for our Latino friends. (See lyrics page for a translation.) My dear friend from Nashville, John DiModica plays bass on this. (Great solo man!) For those that care about this type of thing, the odd meters ARE original to Bill Monroe – it’s not just my music school geekness coming through. (That’s more in the reharm…)
- Thank You Fidel
With tongue firmly in cheek, this song represents the irony of those of us who were swept away from our childhood homes in post-revolutionary Cuba and raised in exile in the U.S.A. My parent’s generation fully believed that our visit here would be short-lived and we’d all be back home soon enough. Half a century later, while we all hold on to the hope that Cuba will soon awake from its olive-green nightmare, we are a blessed people. We are proud Americans by choice, but still Cuban to the core. Here’s a video montage by our friend Ralph Murciano. Finally, we’re glad that El Comandante was feeling well enough to contribute a classic (if slightly altered) monologue at the end of the song… 😉
- Rio Dulce
I played at Altos De Chavon in the Dominican Republic years ago with an artist named Braulio. It is truly one of the most beautiful places anywhere. There is a river there called Rio Dulce (Sweet River). This tune was inspired by that place. The feel is a merengue apambichao – traditionally played at a slow tempo for the Palm Beach crowd to dance to. For guitar aficionados, I’m using a half-capo on the 7th fret across strings 2-3-4 with the 6th dropped down to D.
- Bottleneck Son
I first hear Leo Kottke as a teenager growing up in St. Louis. He opened for Weather Report (!) at Washington University and I was blown away. This is our humble nod to Leo and all other great slide players.
- Lookin’ For A Woman
A merengue-driven bluegrass-esque tribute to the kind of woman that is a constant reminder of what true happiness is really all about, even when it’s too late…
- Songo Down
I’ve had the privilege of playing with some of the best songo drummers anywhere. I’d often kick in with some Watson-style flatpicking while the drummer and percussionist would be descargando (jamming) on a songo groove, earning the “gringo” title among the local musicians. This track is in that spirit and we also feature our friend D.J. Fuse on turntables.
- El Amor Siempre Gana
This song was inspired by my friends Katia and Salvador Cardenal, a brother and sister duo known as Guardabarranco. I had the great privilege to work with them years ago. Their music was almost as beautiful as they were as people. Sadly, Salvador passed away in March 2010. The theme of freedom through love was always prevalent in his music. This track is dedicated to him.
- Mi Vision
This track is based on one of my favorite hits from the 6th century. I re-harmonized it, wrote the Spanish lyrics, and composed a substantial middle section inspired by the music of Ron Miller, one of the greatest jazz composers to date (and my teacher and early mentor). Carla sings it beautifully and everyone plays quite inspired on this one. This is probably my favorite track, as above all, it expresses my deepest sentiments.
- Gracias Fidel
Esta es la versión en español. Espero que les guste. Y al que no le guste que tome purgante…
- Bonus Track: When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder (Old School Mix)
I was sitting around one day singing and playing a lot of old-time music and decided to record this on the fly. It’s one take with a vocal and laud overdub. Had to get that old 78 sound in as well.
Produced by Rey Sanchez and Yerba Blue
Recorded, mixed and mastered at The Bit Factory, Miami, FL; and The II-Bit Factory, Nashville, TN. Additional mastering at Sony Mastering, New York, NY.
Yerba Blue is
- Glenn Basham (fiddle)
- Ettienne Fuentes (drums)
- Cookie Lopez (percussion)
- Shernol Mathias (bass)
- Raul Murciano (keyboards)
- Rey Sanchez (vocals, guitars, dobro, laud, mandolin, and strum-stick)
Special Guest Artists
- John DiModica (bass on Jerusalem’s Ridge)
- D.J. Fuse (turntablist on Songo Down)
- Carla Yale (vocals on Mi Vision)
All songs © 2009 Rey Sanchez Music, SESAC except “Thank You Fidel/Gracias Fidel”, © 2007 Rey Sanchez Music, SESAC and Raisin Chess Music, BMI; and “Jerusalem’s Ridge”, © Bill Monroe Music, BMI
All sound recordings © 2009 YTF Music, an imprint of RSVP Music, Inc.