Title: Inside Rhythmic Falls
Artist: Aruán Ortiz
Formats: CD, Digital
Release date: March 20, 2020
Many artists are known for expressing their cultural identity through music, but the issue most grapple with is how to articulate their own cultural experiences while also evoking the musical traditions of the people. For pianist and composer Aruán Ortiz, the answer lies in the culturally relevant storytelling abilities of the artist. His newest release, Inside Rhythmic Falls, aims to capture “the symphony of everyday life” in his birthplace, the Oriente Province of Cuba, while telling the story of the people and his Afro-Cuban heritage. Joined by legendary drummer Andrew Cyrille, percussionist Mauricio Herrera, spoken word artist Marlène Ramírez-Cancio and narrator Emeline Michel, Ortiz utilizes the changüí by substituting guitar for his piano in the guitar-and-drum music style, while “reconstructing and reconfiguring” the musical aesthetics to uplift the Afro-Cuban voices that were historically repressed, silenced and/or “hidden.”
Influenced by Cuban literary authors Nicolás Guillén and Alejo Carpentier, painter Wilfredo Lam, Cuban Haitian rhythms, and Afro-Cuban religion, Ortiz successfully explores these cultural narratives and aesthetics, in song, to reflect not only the rhythms and soundscapes of the province, but also the social codes and values that are shared through their musical expressions. Songs like “Lucero Mundo,” “Cantos y ñáñigos,” “Argeliers’ disciple,” “Golden Voice” “Marímbula’s Mood,” “Sacred Codes,” and both title tracks, all articulate different aspects of the story about the Oriente through Ortiz’s musical narration while presenting new interpretations that are grounded in Afro-Cuban (musical) heritage.
Inside Rhythmic Falls is an insightful reflection into the “global symphony” of the Oriente and a great tribute to its community.
Reviewed by Jamaal Baptiste