Ramon Taranco – Cuban Blues Man
CD: 8 Songs, 42 Minutes
Styles: Guitar Monster Blues, Experimental Latin Blues, All Original Songs
I’d like to present a riddle, Constant Readers: How is the blues like a supersonic jet? It flies around the world, reaching countless ports of call, and travels faster than the speed of sound. Along the way, it picks up passengers such as Canada’s Ramon Taranco, a Cuban Blues Man. He and his Havana Blues Revue Band infuse their music with traditional and experimental Latin rhythms. It’s always refreshing when artists test and transcend the boundaries of their genre instead of sticking to grooves and riffs you’ve heard a hundred times before. Nevertheless, sometimes less is more.
There’s a jarring improvisational feel to songs such as the opener, “Desperate Love,” and the third track, “Complicate Blues.” That one’s about not complicating romantic relationships, but it should take its own advice in terms of the instrumentation. On the other hand, numbers like “Devil Can Blues,” “Suicide Hotel Boogie” and “The New York Shuffle” are remarkably catchy. So is “Debi Mexico,” a smooth slow-dance meditation with good harmony from everyone involved. Overall, the lyrics are on the basic side, but try to keep up with this delightful tongue-twister: “The devil can be your mother, your lover, your best friend too.” Yours truly wishes Taranco and company would’ve included instrumentals so she could get her Santana groove on.
Cuban-born Ramon feels at home performing all blues styles. He enjoys thrilling audiences while his songs continue to garner airplay on radio stations in over fifty countries. During the eighteen years he lived in NYC, he performed at numerous jazz and blues clubs (La Belle Epoque, Izzy Bar, Mozart Café, Cornelia Street Café, and The Groove); festivals (Soul of the Blues, Harborside Jazz), and colleges (New York State University, Monroe College, Manhattanville College). He has also given eight concerts in the Guggenheim Museum’s World Beat Jazz Series and performed in a blues concert celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday at Newark Public Library. Ever heard of Manhattan station WBAI’s Gutbucket Blues Show? Taranco has played live on it.
Joining Ramon (vocals and guitars) are Juan Pablo Dominguez on electric bass; Amhed Mitchel on drums; Raul Abreu Pineda on drums and percussion; Ruben Vazquez on piano and organ; Brian Gagnon on stand-up bass and background vocals, and Maureen Leeson on female backing vox.
It’s hard to know what to make of the album’s uneven style. Some of its offerings make for smooth soaring while others encounter turbulence. Still, this Cuban Blues Man is worth a listen!