Thursday, January 14, 2016

Crime - Nueva Manteca - 'Salsa y Suspense'

© -  Steven A. Cerra - copyright protected; all rights reserved.

What more could you ask for than new music from the supremely talented Latin Jazz Band - Nueva Manteca?

Based in Holland, the band has been together for over 25 years and is highly respected in Latin Jazz circles for the authentic way in which they perform Afro-Cuban Jazz rhythms and the consistently high quality of its musicianship.

Over the years of existence, Nueva Manteca has had some personnel changes, particularly on the front line which has changed from a two trumpet and sax format to the current configuration of trombone, sax and guitar.

However, throughout these changes, three musicians have remained to anchor the rhythm section: Jan Laurens Hartong, piano, Nils Fischer, conga and percussion and Lucas van Merwijk, drum set and timbales.

The band has always been tight with a driving, controlled pulse and its cohesive rhythm section is primarily responsible for this and for the lively and energetic sound of the band. One would be hard pressed to find musicians more knowledgeable of the conventions, forms and rhythms of Latin Jazz than Jan Laurens, Lucas and Nils. The are literally an Afro Cuban Jazz tower-of-power.

Having worked with Lucas for many years in other settings, Jeroen Vierdag on bass adds punch and punctuation to the Nueva Manteca’s rhythm section allowing the band to loosen up a bit while he “stays home” with the beat.

Ben van den Dungen has been with the band almost since its inception and his Coltranesque tone on both tenor and soprano sax adds a certain harmonic complexity to the band’s sound. Ben’s very modern approach to improvisation along with that of master trombonist Ilja Reijngoud and the electronic guitar stylings of Ed Verhoeff can be said to be responsible for much of the “sound of nueva” in Nueva Manteca.

You can locate order information about the new CD be going here. It is also available as an Mp3 download at Amazon and at CDBaby.

Here are Jan Laurens Hartong’s insert notes to the new recording.


“Nueva Manteca has developed a reputation over the years for its ability to surprise its audience with refreshing different musical points-of-departure.

As so it is once again with its new project called Crime which consists of Afro Cuban arrangements of themes from famous crime and gangster music. Can you imagine the theme of the Godfather in a Cuban rumba Guaguancó? This approach creates music that you immediately recognize but have never heard played in this manner. A perfect combination of recognition and surprise!

NUEVA MANTECA - CRIME! was recorded in performance at Hef Klooster, Woerden, The Netherlands, 2014.

Jan Laurens Hartong, the group’s founder, pianist and primary composer-arranger contributed these inserts notes to the latest CD.

"With this recording Nueva Manteca makes you an offer you can't refuse."

A surprisingly large amount of the best film music has been written for Crime movies and TV series. The names of some of its greatest composers immediately come to mind: Ennio Morricone, Nino Rota, Dave Grusin. This 12th Nueva Manteca album Crime! could also have been aptly titled 'Salsa y Suspense' instrumental Salsa that is. The crime movie genre heightens a viewer's mood and level of anticipation. Essential characteristic elements in its music are: suggestion, shock, surprise and suspense.

Some of these elements are also an essential aspect of the artistry of Ahmad Jamal whose approach appears at times to be similar to that of a film director.

As indicated earlier, Nueva Manteca, inspired by the work of Jamal, generally approaches songs more as a 'compositional device' which allows for interpretations whereby the song becomes a story comprised of edited musical scenes in the form of heads, intros, interludes, solo choruses, outros. Much like film editing. In this way each musical scene contributes to the progress of the story of the song.

A good example of this filmic approach is our arrangement of The Godfather theme. An opening melody is stated immediately after which comes a montuno vamp with a conga solo , followed by a return of the initial melody. Then comes the principal theme. An interlude precedes solo sections for trombone and piano and towards the end a new melody appears. It is the beloved refrain melody of the song "Caruso" Italy's tribute to the immortal opera singer. All the different parts of the arrangement are edited and so combined to form a whole.

With this approach we have attempted to shed 'new light' on some of the best-known Crime film music.

In addition to the The Godfather theme, Nino Rota's "Michael's Theme" from Coppola’s film masterpiece is presented here as a cha cha cha; its pensive mood beautifully rendered by our guitarist. A slow Guajira closes the arrangement.

Ciao City, an original composition, was inspired by the great TV series BoardWalk Empire about the rise and fall of Atlantic City.

The cop TV show of Baantjer was an instant success in Holland, its main title song "Circle of Smiles" made famous by harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans, It is here presented as a solo piano prelude after which the band kicks in.

The 'sneaking-up-from-behind' theme song of Baretta - one of the most famous police series of the 70's - challenged us to try some Latin Funk.

The gorgeous Deborah's Theme from the film Once Upon A Time In America is Morricone at his best. Reason enough to keep our version as basic and simple as

From the West Side Story comes I like to be in America cast in a catchy arrangement by the inventive pianist Marc Bischoff who gave the melody an intriguing 6/8 twist.

Dave Grusin composed the wonderfully haunting theme song of Mulholland Falls, a crime movie which, strangely enough, never appeared in Dutch movie theaters. Here we used several different grooves for different parts of the song.

'O Sole Mio, the old immortal Neapolitan song is here performed in a fast-paced arrangement seasoned with contemporary flavor and contrasting nostalgic old-fashioned horn lines. A Cuban-style montuno vamp rounds it all off.

Tatort is a famous European police TV drama which is still running. It's 'in your face' theme song was composed by the nestor of German Jazz saxophone, Klaus Doldinger.

Finally, I extend my heartfelt thanks and deep appreciation to the band members whose unique artistry has made this music corne to life.

Many thanks also go to Michel BAM Grens initiator/producer/director/editor/grading/authoring and Jan-Willem Stekelenburg recording sound engineer for believing in us and making this production possible.

Hope you like our album as much as we enjoyed making it.”

Jan Laurens Hartong

I like to be in America arranged by Marc Bischoff
The Godfather theme arranged by Jan Hartong in cooperation with pianist Piero Bianculli.
All other arrangements by Jan Hartong

Line up Nueva Manteca            
Jan Laurens Hartong - piano    
Ben van den Dungen - sax       
llja Reijngoud - trombone        
Ed Verhoeff - guitar                  
Jeroen Vierdag - bass              
Nils Fischer - percussion          
Lucas van Merwijk - drums      

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