Today, Origen Records releases Call, the new CD by Cuban percussionist and composer Arturo Stable. Call redefines the outer limits of Latin jazz through complex and compelling original works and an outpouring of virtuosic performances by Stable and his quintet.
Call is the follow-up to Stable’s 2007 Origen Records release Notes on Canvas, a critically-lauded effort that featured aural interpretations of iconic paintings by Monet, Picasso and other masters.
“I see Call as a culmination of some of the material that I started developing in Notes on Canvas,” the 34-year old innovator explains. “I see some new and positive elements in my playing that I like very much, and a cohesive sound throughout the album that I’m especially happy with. But there’s a contrast between the two albums that’s enjoyable as well.”
Call’s riveting qualities stem from Stable’s choice of musicians and how he chose to record the session. Call is a quintet outing that showcases pianist Aruan Ortiz, bassist Edward Perez, saxophonist Javier Vercher and drummer Francisco Mela, with special guest Ian Izquierdo on violin.
“I wanted to take the tunes into the studio and play them live, like the great jazz players used to do,” he comments. “The band on the album is not a group of musicians that I just called to record an album. They are all friends who share my ideas. We know each other musically very, very well and this allowed us to create some truly exceptional performances.”
Stable’s path to his current status as one of the contemporary Latin jazz movement’s most creative exponents has been particularly circuitous. Born in 1975 in Santiago de Cuba, young Arturo was exposed to a wide variety of performing and visual arts from an early age by his father, a painter and musician. He began his formal study of music at age four, taking both piano and theory lessons. When the family moved to Havana, he earned a degree in percussion at the Cuban capital’s famous Amadeo Roldán Conservatory.
At the age of 18, he relocated to the Mexican city of Puebla, honing his percussionist’s skills as a sideman for noted Mexican rock, jazz and Latin bands. Stable launched his teaching career, conducting classes in Cuban and classical percussion at the Puebla State University (Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla). In 2001, he received a scholarship to study at Berklee College of Music and earned a degree in Contemporary Writing and Production. Stable recently joined the Drums and Percussion department at the University of the Arts (UArts) in Philadelphia.
Stable has performed with a wide range of leading jazz stars, from Canadian woodwind artist Jane Bunnett and guitarist Lionel Loueke to vibraphonist Dave Samuels and pianist Hector Martignon.
Several key factors differentiate Stable from the pack. Playing mostly congas on his own sessions, he navigates complex and technically daunting rhythms in odd time signatures never compromising his warm, melodic and uncommonly light touch. And, although in the history of Latin jazz, it has not been uncommon for a percussionist to lead an ensemble, few have demonstrated the knack of composition and arranging that he so obviously possesses.
With Call as his new calling card, it’s easy to understand why Arturo Stable is being recognized as one of the most accomplished and dynamic leaders of the new Latin jazz tradition. “Everything I do as a player comes from checking out all of the percussion masters who have come before me,” he acknowledges with sincerity, “and I feel a great admiration for all of them.”