Backed by a powerhouse array of musicians including Robert and Michael Rodriguez on piano and trumpet, organist Barry Soames, Cuban bassist Yunior Terry, guitarist/bassist Jeff Lee Johnson, drummers François Zayas and Daoud Shaw, and percussionist Cuco Castellanos, Santi’s lithe and angelic Spanish and English vocals float effortlessly between show tunes and Cuban syncopations; from 6/8 bembe to infectious yambu and Columbia rumba rhythms.
There’s nothing tricky about this thirty year-old singer’s real and heartfelt fusion of music, culture, language, and identity. Propelled by her band’s Cubop-in-pocket moods and grooves – with some stateside swing – Santi sautés and simmers standards like the Peter Pan/Rogers and Hart chestnuts “Tender Shepherd” and “Little Girl Blue,” and Gershwin’s “Embraceable You,” with Havana-breezed, Caribbean cadences, while her rendition of an old Cuban song, “Como Fue,” is reimagined as a Broad Street blues. The bolero “Lucerito De Mi Amor” comes from the pen of Jacobo Ros Capablanca, a noted Cuban composer and Santi’s grandfather.
Other island gems like the gorgeous bolero, “Tu Mi Delirio” – reconceptualized as a 4/4 bop number; “Convergencias,” which effortlessly morphs from an abakua and danzon to a cha-cha-cha; and the fiery and folkloric traditional selections “Cumpling Cumpling,” and “Columbia Pa’ Miguel Angel,” as well as Santi’s compositions, the percussively poetic “Talkin’ to You,” and the ballad “Wish You Well,” shows that Santi is at home with any song, from Havana to Harlem.
Venissa Santi - vocals
Robert Rodriguez - piano
Michael Rodriguez - trumpet
Yunior Terry - acoustic bass
Francois Zayas - drums
Cuco Castellanos - conga
Jeff Lee Johnson - special guest, guitar
ReviewsHer voice has a tone that is very original and very special ¦you hear that voice and you won't forget it. - Danilo Perez