The dynamic, inspiring story of how drummer/percussionist Jimmy Branly went from a rock and roll and obsessive learning his craft on makeshift drums made out of spare parts, forming the drum skins out of X-ray film, in his native Cuba to becoming one of L.A.’s first call session and touring masters is one for the ages.
Yet his fascinating journey and all-star multi-genre resume seem only like a sweet, grooving prelude to the edgy and exotic vibes he’s creating now on The Meeting, the first album by the newly formed Jimmy Branly Trio – a dazzling, alternately moody and hard swinging international jazz/world music ensemble featuring his equally storied friends, guitarist Will Brahm and Turkish born bassist Sezin Ahmet Turkmenoglu.
While technically not a debut album for Branly – he’s had previous releases with Otmaro Ruiz, Jimmy Haslip and Abraham Laboriel – the birth of the trio and its first manifestation on The Meeting feels like a fresh revelation of possibilities, engulfing our senses in a burst of edgy, fuzzy guitar driven fusion with rhythmically eclectic colors and textures rooted in a variety of Latin styles.
These include Afro-Cuban (the soulful, bustling opener “Bis Bis”), Brazilian (the brisk, swirling Brahm-penned ,”Presume,” featuring some of the guitarist’s most imaginative playing and improvisations), blues fired
Cuban music (the snappy, hypnotic “Blues 14”), the Cuban danzon rhythm (“Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” strutting like the flames can’t be put out) and bolero (a subtle and sensual romantic view of Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes”).
Though these three “gatos” can play with freewheeling fire, part of the joy of listening to The Meeting is attuning your ears to the emotional subtleties which prove that when it comes to playing and grooving from the heart, sometimes less is truly more.