"Vivencias en Clave Cubana" is the debut solo album of Cuban cuatro master Kiki Valera, a member of the Familia Valera Miranda, a century-old group and one of the most important purveyors of the Son Cubana. While completely dedicated to the performance of traditional Cuban music, Valera was exposed to Pat Metheny, Wes Montgomery and Chick Corea through cassette tapes while in school and those jazz inspirations elevate the quality of his cuatro solos in subtle and beautiful ways. Joined here by childhood friend, reknowned Cuban vocalist Coco Freeman, Valera and his exciting ensemble pair 12 original songs with beautiful instrumental work in ways that will make you dance, laugh, and possibly shed a tear. Cuba's traditional music has a history of constant evolution from its very beginnings. With "Vivencias en Clave Cubana," Kiki Valera continues in that spirit.
Beyond Salsa Piano is a history and anthology of the role of the piano in the Cuban rhythm section – from its first appearance to the present. In a broader sense, it’s a study of the tumbao – the art of creating music from layers of repeating rhythmic and melodic phrases. Whether these syncopated figures are called tumbaos, guajeos, montunos, riffs or vamps, this Afro-Cuban concept lies at the heart of nearly every popular music genre from salsa to rock , funk, R&B, hiphop and jazz.

While presented as a set of method books, the series doubles as a history course and record collecting guide for listeners, dancers, and players of instruments other than the piano.

Perhaps the most important goal of the series is to provide a comprehensive understanding of how tumbaos are constructed, their central role in the texture of Latin music of all eras, and the endless possibilities they provide for creative composing and arranging.

Johnny Blas

Home Base Established Albums Charts PTracks
San Bernardino (CA), United States 1992 1 0 0
This artist has albums available.
Contact Us to license Latin music.
Click on each album title for an expanded view.
Album Name Preview Style Price
King Conga
Alternative text
Latin Jazz $11.99 Buy_now_audio
Percussionist and composer signed to the latin jazz CuBop label.

Blas plays Latin jazz with the swing, energy, originality and attitude that is often missing from modern day recordings. Over the period of three albums his band has recorded only one cover version, prefering to compose their own tunes and create a mix of sounds that is unique and forward thinking. Blas, along with music director-pianist-guitarist, Mark Gutierrez, and the multi-talented trombonist-violinist, Dan Weinstein, plays a big role fashioning this group's unique brand of fiery, yet accomplished Latin jazz. On "Skin and Bones", his first CuBop album, it was the unusual use of a four piece trombone section that set the Blas outfit apart. He earned praise from magazines like Latin Percussionist, who gave the CD an "Excellent" rating and said "This is not a case of nostalgia - this group definitely has its own Latin jazz sound." King Conga, album number three, presents heaps of forward thinking ideas. We hope you enjoy their fresh approach to the world of Latin jazz.

"Among Latin music's top ten bands."
-Max Salazar, Latin Jazz Historian

"A summer sizzler of some fresh Latin jazz from an emerging talent...the solos are exceptional, with Blas proving why he's boss as he tears into the cueros with authority and excitement."
-Latin Beat Magazine

"With a herd of trombones, a driving swing, jazz cat Dave Pike on vibes and a percussion section that will melt asphalt, Skin and Bones is a summer sizzler of some fresh Latin jazz from an emerging talent. Originally from NYC, Blas is a conguero with old shool chops a la [Ray] Barretto and Mongo [Santamaria], who is infusing those influences with a vibrant ensemble that doesn't let up."
-Latin Beat Magazine

"The CuBop arm of San Francisco rare groove stable Ubiquity continues its support of a new generation of latin rhythym rockers with Skin and Bones by rising conga sensation Johnny Blas. No slouch at wringing the rhythm inside out at a moment's notice, Blas' greatest strengthas a percusionist is getting his congas talking in both flashy solos and more restrained interior lines. He's also got a remarkable support crew to fall back on. Shadowed by an airtight band of Los Angeles hotshots including timbale terror Jose Deleon, Jr. and four roaring trombones, Blas and company pound out a classis Nu Yorican big band sound with few difficulties and superb results. Veteran vibist Dave Pike stops by to complete the elegant ensemble. Summer begins here."
-Eye Magazine, Toronto

"Conguero Johnny Blas has assembled a fiery group of musicians for 'Skin and Bones', and it pulses with an authentic intensity. He's working with Mark Gutierrez-piano, Jonathan Pintoff-bass, Jose Deleon-timbales, Robertito Melendez-bongos/bell and four very sturdy trombonists--Dan Weinstein (who also did many arrangements), Steve Baxter, Francisco Torres and Isaac Smith. With vibist Dave Pike on some cuts, the CD provides a variety of moods. The most compelling, however, is an infectious, danceable party groove. Blas opens with sizzling "Los Huesos" to get things off to a good start. Pike adds a silky vibe touch to "Adelantes". 'Gianna' has a very pretty melody and the vocal chorus is a nice touch. Gutirrez does a marvelous job with the Latin rhythms but he does add some jazz inflections in his playing. As the leader, Blas has his congas in the forefront and he manages to make the tunes distinctive, by changing his dynamics and emphasis. The t-bones are wonderful; exciting and there are plenty of solo spots... 'Something Within Me' is energetic throughout with Pike coming in to smooth and soothe things down for a bit. Melendez gets a good work out on timbales. 'I Remember Bennie Green,' (Weinstein bolero) is silky and pretty. 'Skin and Bones' (written by Blas) has Gutierrez playing guitar on another extra-spicy number. 'Cool Blas' cools things down with muted horns and Pike's vibe work. A really great tune. This is a strong outing by Blas and his sidmen and should be sought out by Latin jazz and dance lovers."
-LA Jazz Scene