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Asere Ko represents my vision of combining Afro-Latino music with whatever musical styles I feel comfortable mixing into them. This recording brings a conglomeration of influences from artists of different backgrounds, musical styles, and geographic locations to make this vision a musical reality.
It has been some time since my first CD Diaspora was released and given commitments to teaching and doctorate studies, the process for this recording began a couple of years ago. I wanted to create something similar to my first recording but with more jazz influences. What was lacking was a theme for the project and its compositions. Certain pieces were written almost immediately after my first CD, while others were developed during the sessions as the theme began to firmly take root. Upon some reflection, I realized what was being created here came mostly from a group of musicians who have played together for many years in various bands and projects. There was a certain amount of “knowing” amongst us, a certain understanding or “code” unspoken, that allowed for intimate interaction in the music. I believe that our collective experiences as performers and members of a larger music and art community allow us to share more than notes, pattern and musical phrases, it permits us to share our humanity. Hence the title track is dedicated to the artists on this CD.
Diaspora is the culmination of an effort to capture what I had been conceiving for many years: combining Afro-Cuban and Latin Jazz music with textures and concepts from other “World Music.” While part of the work here is conventional in style, much of it strays from the norm. In short, it is an Afro-Cuban foundation with a potpourri of influences from Europe, Africa, South America, Asia, and the barrio.
Just as importantly, Diaspora, as the title for this project, represents for me a sense of solidarity with people who are away from their native or spiritual land. To many, the word Diaspora (Greek, "dispersion") evokes images of forced migration, upheaval, and sadness. Diaspora, I believe, is our experience in it, the hardships and adversity along with the joys and triumphs.
Simultaneously, it is our struggle to preserve our spiritual essence and the honoring of our ancestors. Indeed, many of the artists who have honored me by contributing to this project have themselves arrived in the U.S. for economic or political reasons, or are descendants of those who have done so similarly. They too have shared their perseverance through the music and the spirit of their art.