When vibrationist Stefon Harris, trumpeter Christian Scott and saxophonist David Sanchez traveled to Cuba for a music festival, they met up with several local musicians, including pianists Rember Duharte and Harold Lopez-Nussa, and began rehearsals. The chemistry was so great that they wound up recording nine songs in a tiny Havana studio, and “Ninety Miles” is the result of that encounter. Not surprisingly given the nature of the project, improvisation permeates the record.
The recording shows that not knowing each other’s language is not an impediment for musical greatness. For instance, the gentle ballad “The Forgotten Ones” (which reportedly alludes to the poorest victims of Hurricane Katrina) has Harris on lead backed by syncopated percussion. “Congo” has a funky feel when added to Afro-Cuban elements, while the opener “Nengueleru” takes things in a more electric direction. Though Cuban sounds prevail, it’s incredible how the music gels. The sessions were recorded with musicians from both Duharte and Nussa’s own quartets, and what each player brings to the table is formidably exhilarating. (Ernest Barteldes)
Christian Scott, Stefon Harris & David Sanchez