The Rumba Foundation
EMI 50999 698061 2 4
Jesse Cook can now add ethnomusicologist to his résumé, right under rumba flamenco guitar god. For his 7th album, the award-winning composer travelled to Bogota, Colombia to absorb the musical culture and integrate it into his unique style of nuevo flamenco music. And he’s done a fine job of it, too. Sometimes when musicians attempt to bring together musical genres the result is somewhat disjointed, with one style awkwardly inserted into the other, never achieving a true blend. But on “The Rumba Foundation” Cook and crew achieve an artful marriage of rhythms and harmonies. Several tracks have been recorded with Colombian musicians Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, and on Manolo’s Lament and Bogota by Bus the group has found the common ground between the musics and traditional Colombian instruments like gaita flutes are completely at home. La Rumba del Jefe’s medium groove completely hits the rhythmic sweet spot.
Cook’s writing and playing shifts easily between contemplative ballads and blistering guitar work. So although there are new sounds here, we also get treated to some of his trademark gorgeous ballads on Tuesday’s Child and Homebound (aided by Chris Church’s plaintive violin), while unleashing the million-note-a-minute runs on Paul Simon’s Cecilia. This, the only cover on the record, is completely appropriate as the rousing multicultural rendition is a great tribute to the man who was one of the first to bring “world” music to North American pop audiences.