|Trio Bembe: Scott Senior,Amber Epp, and Rodrigo Muñoz|
If you know the Winnipeg jazz scene, you most likely know vocalist/ pianist Amber Epp. I first met and heard Epp two years ago at the Monday Night Hang (the local weekly jazz jam session, which is now known as the Wednesday Night Hang, since the Orbit Room changed it to Wednesdays). She struck me immediately as a natural performer, brimming with confidence and energy. Epp is from Steinbach, Manitoba, which apparently has a jazz scene so small it fits in a thimble(meaning there is no jazz scene!). Consequently, Epp never heard any jazz or Latin music until she was 15 years old. However, being the driven, precocious person she is, she immersed herself in the great jazz singers, studied hard in the University of Manitoba Jazz program, and has become an young artist with a bright future.
|a cajon which Scott Senior plays in Trio Bembe|
Trio Bembe's sophomore recording is called Oh My Soul, and it is a continuation of the previous CD, but with some special guests on selected tracks(such as Jimmy Green on tenor saxophone,Victor Hugo López on guitar and the tres, and yours truly on keys), and also more of Epp's compositions. Epp's singing and Spanish has improved even more, and the music has more intensity. The opening cut, "Donde Estabas Tu?" sounds straight out of Cuba. A surprisingly fast version of the Cuban lullaby "Drume Negrita" is also quite convincing.
|the Cuban tres guitar|
When I hear cuts like "La mucura", which is an Antonio Fuentes tune from the late 40's, and "Yerbero Moderno", a Celia Cruz hit, I get a sense of high authenticity. Trio Bembe knows their history. But also, with originals like "Oh my soul," and "Olhos de luz", I get a look into the future. I see great things for this band. If you live in Winnipeg, you can catch them (and me!) at their CD release party on April 15th, 8pm, at the West End Cultural Centre.