Venissa Santi
Bienvenida by Venissa Santi cover

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Track List: listen

Tender Shepard & Little Girl Blue - 03:53
Convergencia - 05:05
Lucerito de mi Amor - 03:54
Talkin' To You - 05:48
Embraceable You - 05:48
Columbia pa' Miguel Angel - 09:37
Como Fue - 04:49
Tu Mi Delirio - 05:24
Wish You Well - 04:02
Cumpling Cumpling - 04:53


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

�Her voice has a tone that is very original and very special �you hear that voice and you won�t forget it.� - Danilo Perez

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 Fran�ois 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 saut�s 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.


"Of all the duties I�ve had these many years as Program/Music Director of the Jazz Satellite Network, by far the most difficult are the duties of Music Director. In this capacity, I must listen to and decide which CD�s are worthy of airplay. In today�s business, almost anyone can produce a CD. For themost part that means a lot of time listening to efforts that fall short of
making it. But occasionally, something comes my way that is outstanding. Such is the case with Venissa Santi's �Bienvenida�.
At first sight, the advance copy of the CD had the look of a self-produced effort and was sent to my �listen later� stack for when I have more time. But then I received an email from Venissa asking for my response. So, that meant that she is serious enough to follow up. Then, one of the world�s finest jazz DJs, Stan Dunn, called and recommended I give it a listen. That moved it to the �listen now� stack.
The set begins with a medley of �Tender Shepherd� from Peter Pan and Rodgers & Hart�s �Little Girl Blue�. While this seems an awkward fit lyrically, the performance is pleasantly successful. Venissa�s voice has qualities similar to that of Rosa Pasos, suggesting simplicity, innocence and honesty without affectation.
By the time I reached Venissa�s composition �Talking To You�, it was clear that she is deeply involved with her music on a high artistic level. The song at first suggests a pop feeling but the lyric and the use of Latin rhythms set it apart from the mundane. Then, on to �Embraceable You�. This impressed me so much that at first I thought I might be falling in love with this woman. But I got a hold of myself. I�m a fan and she is an artist of the first magnitude. And judging from audience reaction, I am not alone in my enthusiasm.
Many Latin jazz and vocal jazz fans have emailed to express their approval and even jazzers who are not generally fond of vocalmusic have sung her praises and asked where to get the CD. �Wish YouWell� is also Venissa�s composition. I found the lyrics so sincere that it was if I was listening in on a very personal conversation. While the melody is quite simple, her voice and her lyrics make it a genuinely moving song.
One of the great pleasures of my job is introducing new artists and aspects of the jazz world to the audience. With Venissa I�mpresenting a producer, a writer and an arranger as well as an outstanding vocal talent. She presents a formidable blend of Cuban music, American pop and jazz that I find both intoxicating and irresistible. Venissa Santi has arrived on the scene and the scene is a better, hipper place.

Bob Parlocha, Program Director , Jazz Satellite Network"

Great article in the October 2009 issue of JazzTimes!

Shaun Brady, JazzTimes - October 2009 read the full article


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