Trombonist, composer and arranger William Cepeda is part of a new generation of musicians who have not only mastered the skills a jazz artist requires, but combine them with the traditional music of their homeland, creating a new and challenging repertoire. Cepeda calls his own variation on this theme "Afrorican Jazz."
His album, My Roots & Beyond features Cepeda in the company of such celebrated fellow Puerto Ricans as percussionist Bobby Sanabria, bassist John Benitez, both noted for their Latin jazz abilities and cuatro player extraordinaire Yomo Toro, an early exponent of the island's jaunty jibaro (country) music and a legendary figure from the heyday of salsa in the seventies.
Reaching beyond his ensemble, Grupo Afro Boricua, Cepeda tapped Cuban woodwind artist Paquito D'Rivera, trombonists Slide Hampton and Costa Rica native Luis Bonilla, and Chicano jazz trumpeter Tony Lujan to add extra ensemble muscle.
"This is my contribution to Puerto Rican music... Nothing like this has been done before, because while there are plenty of great jazz albums inspired by Cuban rhythms and music, Cuban-jazz fusions and such, there's nothing quite of the same calibre out there for Puerto Rican music and jazz. And there should be." -- William Cepeda
Reviews"The music is based in the drums and rhythms brought to Puerto Rico as a consequence of the African slave trade. The melody instruments are, for the most part, limited to the voices of the lead vocalists. However, more often than not, these are used as percussion instruments as well: the vocals are dominated by call and response chants. The lead vocalist will chant a line, which is then echoed by a chorus. Occasionally the lead vocalist will sing rather than chant, but it is the chants that dominate. All the while the drums are beating out one of several rhythms. That's part of the education here: the booklet accompanying the CD names the different rhythms and describes each song by, in part, telling the listener which rhythm appears in which song. We can then learn our way around Puerto Rican music by listening carefully so that we can learn to identify the various rhythms." - All About Jazz