April 20, 2024

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CD review: Marlon Simon and the Nagual Spirits – On Different Paths – 2024: Video, CD cover

Harry Sepulveda has great taste in Latin music, especially Latin-jazz. He should, considering that for decades he managed Record Mart, the Latin record store that first opened in 1958 and stood in the Times Square subway station near the Grand Central shuttle.

I first met Harry in the 1970s when the record shop was located several steps down from the shuttle, near the BMT line, where the N and the RR stopped. Back then, I pored over the bins, asking Harry all sorts of questions about Latin music. Sadly, Record Mart closed in 2020 due to the pandemic. [Photo above of Marlon Simon, courtesy of Marlon Simon]

So whenever I receive a package in the mail with Harry’s return address, I take the contents seriously. This time Harry sent a single CD—Marlon Simon and the Nagual Spirits’ On Different Paths (Truth Revolution). The album is Latin jazz, but it’s way more than that. The album is loaded with a wide range of rhythms, jazz feel and tenderness.

Drummer and composer Marlon Simon was born in Venezuela and arrived in the U.S. in 1987. In 1991, he completed a bachelors degree in jazz performance and contemporary music from New York’s The New School for Social Research. He spent years in New York working with artists such as Hilton Ruiz, Jerry González, Dave Valentin, Bobby Watson, Charles Fambrough and Aretha Franklin. His brothers Edward, a pianist, and Michael, a trumpeter, joined him.

Screenshot 2024-02-12 at 7.51.23 PM

Photos by Marcela Joya

His band, the Nagual Spirits, was formed in 1994 to showcase his compositions. In addition to performing, Marlon has worked as an educator leading workshops and master classes at colleges and underprivileged public schools in the New York area. Grants and awards helped him travel and play in Canada, Poland, Netherlands Antilles, Bolivia, France and Australia. [Photo above, current members of Marlon Simon and the Nagual Sprits, from left Michael Simon, Roberto Quintero, Alex Norris, Edward Simon, Marlon Simon, Peter Brainin and Boris Kozlov. Photo by Marcela Joya]

Released in January, On Different Paths is Marlon’s sixth album under his name (there are many more with Marlon as a sideman) and his most ambitious recording. The musicians are Marlon Simon (d,perc), Edward Simon (p), Boris Koslov (b), Alex Norris (tp,flug horn), Michael Simon (tp), Kevin Newton (French horn), Monica Ellis (bassoon), Peter Brainin (ts,ss), Roberto Quintero (congas,pec) and Rhumer Mora (bongos).

The Latin jazz on this album is unlike any you’ve heard before. Marlon’s original compositions seem to evolve organically, shifting moods and rhythms as they flower. The music is truly extraordinary. Do yourself a favor and give a listen. As Harry said when he called to follow up, “Papa, did you dig Marlon? Wild right?” Plenty wild, Harry, and peaceful. I love this album. https://www.jazzwax.com/

On different paths is the result of a proposal I made to the Guggenheim Foundation where I explained how I wanted to create music that will involve elements and instrumentation from classical music, jazz progression , improvisation, Afro Caribbean and Latin American rhythms. This was a challenge for me since I did not explore this concept in the past, however, I believe that when the composer goes to unknown territory … only then your true self comes out, it becomes a special and beautiful process to experience and that is what I like the most about this album, it exposes my true self without filters. The members of the nagual spirits have been with me since 1994 when I formed the band. These are musicians that are knowledgeable of both jazz and Latin music vocabulary since they grew up in NYC where you get the most authentic information on these genders. Then the classical musicians have to be more open minded to come on board of a project like this. These were important points to consider before calling the musicians for this recording,- an interview with as said Marlon Simon.

We highly recommend that you definitely get this CD and enjoy it

Buy from here – New CD 2024

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