Twenty-one days. Twenty-one improvised compositions. One hundred Cuban musicians. It doesn’t get much more creative than that. Bassist Matt Geraghty presents these elements with Trade Winds (2016), a two-disc set of 21 songs.
“With the softening of political tensions between Cuba and the United States, ’21 Trade Winds’ has brought together 100 of the most important names in Cuban music to build a bridge between the two nations through the universal language of music,” Geraghty says. “The only rule – new work be made in the moment.”
The tracks are listed in the sequence of the 21 days. The cover description explains: Trade Winds is a series of unprecedented musical collaborations that travel along the historic triangle trade route, exploring the history and evolution of music through improvised compositions. It seeks to reveal the cultural and musical footprint that was made by the trans-Atlantic trade route while creating a new model for music making in our globalized society. The liner also names the venue where each song was recorded.
Brazilian saxophonist Ze Luis Oliveira appears on several tracks. He produced, recorded and mixed the music. Documenting the event was filmmaker and cinematographer Laura Newman. Videos are online at MGP21.com.
Day 3 – “In the Temple” features Rolando Luna, Oliver Valdes, Geraghty and Oliveira. It starts calmly, with the bass and a little percussion. It quickly heats up with the saxophone and piano coming in. The two instruments engage in a sizzling melody and counter-melody, while bass and percussion keep adding fuel. Oliveira plays a tenor at first, but when he switches to the soprano, the flames get higher. The drum kit also powers up. The pace remains steady, but the heat is turned down a bit – not much - when the piano takes point. About five minutes in, it comes to an abrupt halt, with the tempo slowing and the mood softening. The interlude has the feel of a sonata as it closes out the piece.
Day 11 – “The New Now,” recorded at Corner Café features Mary Fernandez Garcia. Geraghty begins the piece with an effects-driven bass solo, touching it up with a bit of wah-wah and echo. After the bass, a conga solo emerges to end the song.
Day 14 – “Common Currency” features Geraghty with Juan Carlos Rojas Castro, Dayron Rodriguez and Oliveira. Recorded at Castro’s garage, it’s an electric bass virtuoso with the percussionists jamming. Geraghty plays with a verve that’s part Jaco Pastorius, part Stanley Clarke.
Day 15 – “Building Bridges” is one of the more melodic pieces. Oliveira dons the flute, augmented by hand claps and two acoustic guitars. Additional players are Ivan Pastranna and Alejandro Delgado. The flute rests while the guitars carry the lead, all while Geraghty sets the foundation. As the music slowly softens, Oliveira’s tenor joins the guitars.
All music for Trade Winds was recovered in Cuba in June 2015, with the tracks recorded in studios, outdoor venues, the street, clubs, private homes and a garage. These elements enhance the feel of authenticity, representatives of the sounds you might hear in those locations along the coasts of the United States, the Caribbean islands, Brazil and West Africa.