Chanchullo Press Notes

"... what I like about Chanchullo is their use of jazz elements mixed with the modern and traditional Cuban music. I think the band will have a lot of success ..."

Paquito D´Rivera, Sax/Clarinet Legend, Cuba/USA

"... this is the number one Latin recording of the year 2001..."

Luis Tamargo, Latin Beat Magazine, USA

"... when I heard the Cuarteto Chanchullo CD it made me smile and it also transported me back to the Cuban musical environment. This group has great talent and an original sound of their own. It's a must to check out. Enjoy el Chanchullo!"

Luis Conte, Percussionist, Los Angeles, USA

"... a very versatile and strong band despite its small size... and the percussion inspirations speak for themselves with feeling.... superb work by all musicians.....bravo!...."

John Santos, Percussionist, San Francisco, USA

"Zambumbia offers an engaging son-influenced repertoire that reveal a group of considerable songwriting depth...a quartet that seems poised to gain a broader audience on the European front."

FolkRoots Magazine, London, UK

"... every piece has been well arranged and perfectly performed... Cuarteto Chanchullo has just let us know that an extremely wide spectrum is its main strength... this album is a must for good salsaholics..."

Der Salsaholic Magazine, Germany

"... sax player Leandro Saint-Hill, a known personality on the european Latin jazz scene, reveals himself as an incredibly good sonero singer... with "Yuka y Makuta" they truly have a smash hit that can certainly set the dancefloors of Miami on fire..."

Szene Hamburg Magazine, Germany

"... I must say that I love the CD, it is very good. I played it yesterday at the club and a couple of people came to me to ask who it was. The song I love the most is "La Gente Se Quema"'s my favorite song at the moment!!!..."

DJ Elvira, New York, USA

Chanchullo Press Reviews

Latin Beat Magazine

May 2001, CD Reviews, by Luis Tamargo, Los Angeles, USA

Led by a 39-year old pianist from Marianao by the name of Ricardo Alvarez, the amazing Hamburg-based Chanchullo (meaning "shady business" in Cuban slang) is basically comprised of artistic renegades from the thirty-something generation of Cubans caught between the 1970s songo revolution and the 1990s timba/u-turn salsa convulsion. Fortunately, the four expatriates managed to preserve their sanity and transplant updated versions of their native island's genres and styles (son, chachacha, bolero, danzon, conga, changui, etc.) to the reunified land of Beethoven, while injecting such Creole idioms with nourishing jazz influences and modern arrangements. The abovementioned factors justify the title of Chanchullo's self-produced (and mostly original) recording debut, as Alvarez explains it: "From our point of view, zambumbia refers to a harmonious mixture of colors, rhythms, races and origins." Which is precisely what real Cuban music is all about. Along with Jane Bunnett's Alma de Santiago and David Alvarez's Mundo Loco, Chanchullo's Zambumbia is one of the most fascinating recordings that I have received in recent times. Therefore, one must not ignore the pertinent warning issued by Europe's numero uno Latin music institution in its first release: "¡Se formo el chanchullo!" (Luis Tamargo)

RootsWorld Magazine

by Michael Stone, New York
FolkRoots Magazine No. 216, June 2001, London

Cuarteto Chanchullo, a talented foursome of well-traveled Cubans based in Hamburg, Germany, comprises Ricardo Alvarez (piano, keyboards, backing vocals, musical direction), Leandro Saint-Hill (flute, saxes, lead and backing vocals), Omar Rodríguez Calvo (bass, backing vocals) and Silvano Mustelier (conga, bongo, timbales, cowbell, güiro, maracas, woodblock). Zambumbia offers an engaging son-influenced repertoire that—with four compositions each by Alvarez and Saint-Hill, and one by Rodríguez Calvo—reveal a group of considerable songwriting depth. But they're equally adept on classic Cuban roots terrain, as with Saint-Hill's erudite soprano sax reading of "Guajira en Menor," by Pedro Justiz "Peruchin," one of the piano greats of the descarga ("jam session") era of 1950s Cuba. Saint-Hill has played with saxophone wizard Tony Martínez's Cuban Power band, and Martínez returns the favor on Alvarez's "Huerfano de Swing" (a bright, tongue-in-cheek reprimand of a feckless rube stuck in a stylistic time warp), and Saint-Hill's "Danzonetando," which takes a retrospective stylish turn without conceding the ensemble's thoroughly contemporary disposition. Guest pianist Ramón Valle also checks in with dispatch here and on "En la Volga," an upbeat son descarga.

The group's pervasive sense of irony is manifest in the many ambient streams and spoken asides woven throughout the recording. Consider their read of "La Basura," whose good-spirited vocal call-and-response approach evinces a real affection for a 1950s form, rescuing the cha cha chá from terminal museum status. Rodríguez Calvo's son montuno "La Gente Se Quema" renders soulful tribute to the vitality of the barrio that nurtured his youth, while the title track, an Alvarez son descarga, moves into the realms of cubano jazz, whose reflective side they explore as well on the bolero "Tú Mi Delirio" and "Miramar," a suave danzón mambo. Saint-Hill's conga "Jocy Chancletera" and Alvarez's signature "Mi Changüi Chanchullero" reveal the sassier side of a quartet that seems poised to gain a broader audience on the European front.

Salsaweb Internet Magazine

Nestor Louis, Los Angeles
Zambumbia - Cuarteto Chanchullo
(c) 2001 Alvarez Music
RATING: ****1/2
FAVORITE TRACKS: 3, 8, 10, 11

I was hanging out at Nell's visiting my buddy - The Queen of All DJ's! Recognized throughout the salsa circle world wide as one of the best dj's around, due to her instinctive ability to keep the dancer dancing and the listener listening, DJ Elvira played a track from this CD. I immediately looked at her in the booth and saw her smiling, as if she was saying - I got you...AGAIN. I quickly worked my way through the twirling dance crowd, and just before I could get the words out, she pulled out the CD cover for me. Answering my question, before I could ask. Cuarteto Chanchullo's debut CD titled "Zambumbia" is one of the best CD I've heard so far this year. The son montuno, the cha-cha-cha, the guajira, the danzon, the mambo, and a bunch of other tasty styles are covered in this 13 track production out of Germany. La Gente Se Quema, my absolute favorite track, it's a fast paced song that features catchiest saxophone-flute riff ever done in this genre. With contributions by Tony Martinez & Ramon Valle, Cuarteto Chanchullo, made up of Omar Rodriguez Calvo, Silvano Mustelier, Ricardo Alvarez, and Leandro Saint-Hill, has a unique live sound that, thanks to few over-dubs, delivers the purest sound possible and sets the right mood for every occasion and every moment in time. This is a must get!

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