Welcome to the Music Thursdays segment! Each week here on Geek Alabama, Music Thursdays will feature music related content. Music Thursdays will feature an artist or band and their latest song and / or music video. People love music, and we here at Geek Alabama love featuring artists and bands!
The multi-talented, multi-lingual, multi-instrumental team of vocalist and violinist extraordinaire Blanca Cecilia González and pianist/singer/composer Jesse Elder is at the heart of Musiquita, a vivacious performance ensemble as well as a popular Spanish-English music program for families. Their debut album, aptly titled Musiquita, is set for release on September 24, 2022.
Colombian native Blanca Cecilia González holds a Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, and her husband, Jesse Elder, is music director of the globetrotting ensemble Postmodern Jukebox, With extensive performing/arranging/
Joined by a lineup of world-class musicians at the very top of their game, Blanca and Jesse have put together a wild-and-crazy, high-spirited musical romp that is also thoughtfully lyrical, sophisticated, highly intelligent, and festooned with Latin, jazz, classical, and funk stylings. With sounds ranging from big band jazz, string quartet, and accordion tango to Broadway patter, free jazz, and every kind of Latin rhythm and style imaginable, Musiquita is performed with virtuosity and creativity operating at a stratospheric level.
Among the truly spectacular musicians heard on Musiquita are Mathias Kunzli, who drums for Regina Spektor; renowned jazz bassist Rashaan Carter, a protégé of Ron Carter; Latin Grammy winners Domenica Fossati (flute) and Sita Chay (violin); cellist Susan D. Mandel, whose credits include numerous film scores and appearances with major label artists on late night TV; immensely respected NYC children’s string instructor, violist Nicole Wright; Grammy-nominated, virtuosic pianist/accordionist/composer Vitor Gonçalves; trumpeter Wayne Tucker, who plays with Taylor Swift; saxophonist Matt Parker, who has performed with countless jazz luminaries; and trombonist Reggie Watkins, who has served as musical director for Maynard Ferguson and Jason Mraz.
With the energy of classic cartoon music, Musiquita offers a bouncing “¡Hola!” that explodes with alegría de vivir on its title track, a giddy, bilingual number that flashes elegantly from one crazy idea to another, sampling the talents of most of the album’s musicians along the way. At one point, quite unexpectedly, the instrumentation shifts to the silky timbre of a string quartet, inspired by Tchaikovsky, with a hint of mariachi! Musical geometry permeates “Shape Song,” which celebrates the bilingual roots of Musiquita with Jesse singing in English while Blanca raps in Spanish. “Me Gusta La Lluvia” is a delightful evocation of the sounds of rain, with singing and playing from Jesse Elder, Blanca Cecilia González, the string quartet, and a free improv intro from Rashaan Carter and Mathias Kunzli.
Other highlights include “Mucho Mochi Mama,” a ‘60s-flavored song in a reggae groove, sung in Spanish, about a traditional Japanese dessert invaded by a scoop of ice cream, which inspires horn players Wayne Tucker, Matt Parker, and Reggie Watkins to flex their jazz chops with tasteful, in sync phrasing. “Unique New York” challenges listeners with a Big Apple tongue twister while embarking on a playful exploration of NYC sound and personality, celebrating diversity with vibrant musical contrasts: a chattering beginning filled with staccato New York patois, followed by a lazy swing tempo dressed up with transplanted Southern accents, and finally, a tremendous Latin jam with all the instruments going at it at once. Not to be missed is the sweet tango “Un Besito,” all in Spanish, about giving kisses to your children, which features an over-the-top performance from Blanca Cecilia González, who delves into the very heart of the Latin canción de amor, and the scintillating sound of accordionist Vitor Gonçalves, grounded by the extraordinary rhythm team of pianist Jesse Elder, percussionist Mathias Kunzli, and bassist Rashaan Carter.
Musiquita will be available at major digital outlets.