(Nø Førmat!, out Fri 25 Jan 2019)
Jazz meets rumba in the new self titled album from French/Cuban collective ¿Que Vola? Taking their name from the colloquial Cuban greeting, head of the group Fidel Fourneyron has put together a friendly team of both French jazz musicians and Cuban percussionists. Like their name suggests (it roughly translates to “what’s up?”) the band’s sounds are fun, informal and improvised.
Each track has a fiery feeling that can only be generated from a group so young and exuberant. The entire album sounds like a party and creates a strong image of the ten musicians partying together as they improvise each track. This sense of partying is translated perfectly to listeners. ¿Que Vola? makes for a great background album at a party, so long as it’s an energetic gathering one has planned.
The title track winds the pace down a good bit and allows everyone involved to breathe. The French can breathe anyway, as the Cuban percussionists contrast the slowing pace by ramping up the speed of their drumming as the song continues. ¿Que Vola? is roughly in the middle of the seven tracks and marks a mild resting point before picking up where they left off.
Another track worthy of mention is the closer Resistir which is the most “French” track on the album. While all other tracks have a distinct mix of both French jazz and Cuban rumba, this track feels like an authentic jazz piece with the added bonus of multiple percussionists. That is until the occasional “Cuban” refrain appears from the halfway point onwards. What’s interesting is the refrain actually comes from the French musicians, so this track really exemplifies the togetherness of the album, albeit in a different manner from the rest of the tracks. What it lacks in explosive energy it makes up for in pleasing and recognisable jazz sounds.
¿Que Vola? is a great jazz album that brings together two styles of music in an organic and fun way. The stylish jazz and punchy rhythms of these French/Cuban tracks are a winning combination.