2007 reissue on Malanga of two classic albums from the inimitable Cuban trombonist Generoso “Tojo” Jiménez bookends five years between 1969 and 1965. Entitled Trombón Majadero after his 1965 recording of the same name, the recording also begins with the twelve songs from that album and then goes back in time to end with another ten songs from his 1960 classic Ritmo album. One is not sure why this compilation is produced this way, but in the ultimate analysis it has little effect on the listening experience; the music being uniformly well-recorded and – equally – a joy to listen to. It is also an apt way to remember the Cuban musician who enjoyed a mighty career as a trombonist, arranger and bandleader who brought his prodigious gifts to Beny Moré’s Banda Gigante and is also heard in the legendary bands of almost every great Cuban leader from Bebo Valdés and Cachao to Gloria Estefan; an appearance that crowned his illustrious career shortly before he passed away in Miami.
The music – simple melodies that turn diabolically complex in the short time they are played thanks to some brilliant arrangements and breathtaking soloing – has the ingenious hallmarks of the great trombonist; the textures and turns of phrase are all there, as is the expressive economy and bursting invention. With two ensembles packed, end to end, with heavy-weights such as Guillermo Barreto, Cachao and others, Generoso “Tojo” Jiménez and his musicians dispatch these works with brisk clarity, getting down to business with memorable songs such as “Jaky Ky” on Trombón Majadero and “Señorita Luna” on the album Ritmo, the former, a typical Cuban “descarga” and the latter a marvellous “rumba”, both of which are presented as though they are incredible musical dialogues in subtly varied hues.
Meanwhile on all of the material the bandleader and trombonist leads us into the bright sunlight of Afro-Cuban music, always keeping us in an effervescent realm as he and his outstanding ensembles deliver the music with an incomparable majesty that came to be associated with the master-musician throughout his life. Whether playing the melodic line or improvising when his music called for it, Generoso “Tojo” Jiménez paced the music in a masterful fashion, his articulation always pellucid and his touch often poetically suggestive.
Throughout the recording he engages other musicians – either solo or in ensemble – to raise the level of their art so that they divest music of its hackneyed associations and raise whatever they play to a higher, enigmatic level. Always this music comes at us in tempestuous waves framed by the masterful playing of a battery of percussionists who hammer out breathtaking tattoos to the rhythm of various classic Afro-Latin dance forms, and in the case of the music of Ritmo (tracks 13 to 23), the rhythms are driven by the mastery of Guillermo Barreto on drums and Cachao on contrabass. One could hardly have asked for a better document to remember the great Generoso “Tojo” Jiménez by.
11: Llegaron Del Otro Mundo;
12: El Contrabajo Fantasma;
14: A La Bahía De Manzanillo;
21: El Tambor De La Alegría;