Percussionist Sammy Figueroa has not only has become a successful leader in his own right, but is also one of the most exciting artists in Latin Jazz today. In a recent news release, Figueroa calls Urban Nature, his third recording with his twice Grammy nominated band, The Latin Jazz Explosion, “the most satisfying record we’ve ever done. It truly reflects my personality.” Urban Nature also marks a new beginning – this is his debut album on Senator Records, an imprint created for Sammy in cooperation between Berlin’s Senator Entertainment and Ashé Records.
“The Latin feel in jazz has been around since jazz began,” Figueroa said. “It’s all about the rhythm, the movement and certain swing. When you hear it, you don’t have to be Latin to like it. It just does something to your system that one cannot explain. On this album, we had the opportunity to successfully combine the joy of Latin rhythms with the sophistication of jazz harmonics. I hope the listener will enjoy this music as much as we have playing and recording it.”
Urban Nature is a salute to the creativity that Sammy, a native New Yorker, has experienced during his time in Miami. The album’s kinetic cover photo, taken in motion on the causeway between Miami Beach and the mainland, reflects this message, and the music’s combination of earthy rhythms and heady harmonies, carries it forward.
After two decades as New York’s number-one percussionist, recording and performing with artists such as Miles Davis, the Brecker Brothers, Sonny Rollins (with whom he is currently touring) and pop stars David Bowie, Chaka Khan, and Mariah Carey to name a few, Sammy was ready for a change. He moved to South Florida where, between the extraordinary Frost School of Music at the University of Miami and a community of excellent musicians from Cuba, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Brazil and Argentina, he discovered a vibrant Latin jazz scene, rich with musical opportunities.
Gathering together some of the best players in town, Sammy and his band made their debut at the Hollywood Jazz Festival in 2002. He hasn’t looked back since. The band’s first two albums, And Sammy Walked In and The Magician, each received Grammy nominations for Best Latin Jazz Album and their exciting performances have gained them enthusiastic fans throughout the United States and Europe.
The Latin Jazz Explosion features the brilliant pianist Silvano Monasterios and accomplished bassist Gabriel Vivas (both from Venezuela), Alex Pope Norris on trumpet, saxophonist John Michalak and the young Puerto Rican drummer Nomar Negroni. On Urban Nature, the group is joined by special guests Ed Calle on sax, Mike Orta on piano and Venezuelan percussionist José Gregorio Hernandez.