One of Venezuela's musical treasures, Latin GRAMMY Award-winner and GRAMMY Award-nominated cuatro virtuoso Jorge Glem and American accordionist/pianist/composer Sam Reider intertwine folk music traditions of their respective countries on their debut duo studio album, Brooklyn-Cumaná (Guataca Foundation, Release Date: November 4, 2022). Brooklyn-Cumaná features acclaimed special guests including saxophone/clarinet legend Paquito D'Rivera, GRAMMY-nominated Latinx vocalist Gaby Moreno, and members of the lauded Americana band Human Hands, including saxophonist Eddie Barbash (Jon Batiste, Cory Wong), violinist Alex Hargreaves (Billy Strings, Live From Here), and mandolinist Dominick Leslie (Molly Tuttle). The album release event for Brooklyn-Cumaná will be at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center in New York City on Weds., Nov. 9, 2022.
Unlike any other Venezuelan and American cultural collaborations, Glem and Reider beautifully capture a truly New York story on Brooklyn-Cumaná. Traversing between their apartments in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and the South Bronx on the 2/3 or 4/5 subway trains, intricate rhythmic languages are the centripetal force at play between two artists who can only communicate through brilliant musical forms as instrumentalists. Hailing from Cumaná, the capital city of Venezuela's Sucre State, Glem speaks Spanish while Reider only speaks English. Knowledge of the others native languages are limited, though their vivacious curiosities to discover Venezuelan and American folk music and how they are interconnected loom large.
"Rhythm is the common ground that connects us," says Sam Reider. "We've learned how to communicate across linguistic barriers ever since we met in 2016 at a party on the Upper West Side while bottles of rum and maracas were passed around. From the day Jorge moved to New York City and he brought his cuatro to that dinner party, we've shared this music together in our homes and we're very excited for the world to finally hear our compositions."
Jorge Glem adds, "Similar to how it was essential for me to showcase and make music from the eastern part of Venezuela, Sam has been doing the same with his band Human Hands for American roots music, and his jazz projects. Sam appreciates how music has no perimeters. We are all from this Earth and there should be no boundaries between countries, just the earth that connects us."
Brooklyn-Cumaná opens with legendary old-time folk musician John Hartford's tune, "Homer the Roamer," which has an Irish sensibility. To perform the song on accordion and cuatro, Reider admits, "it's an act of hilariously complex cultural layering." A second half of the piece "Sabana Blanca" reflects Spain's musical heritage in Venezuela. With its swift tempo and heartfelt harmony, the piece is an improvisational masterpiece.
Originally written for Human Hands, "Del Boca Vista" is a take on a Brazilian choro, partly inspired by the music of singer-songwriter Joao Bosco. Brazilian percussionist Fernando Saci gives it an upbeat groove with layered instrumentation by Barbash, Hargreaves, and Leslie. "Malagueña Cumanesa" featuring singer Gaby Moreno carries a sense of nostalgia with musical influences originating in the south of Spain en route to Venezuela. Glem wrote the piece upon arriving in NYC and longing for his home of Cumaná.
"Amarilis" is a wonderful traditional waltz composed by Daniel Maíz, a composer/mandolinist from the state of Sucre that became one of the first songs Glem introduced to Reider. Composed by José Julian Villafranca -- a great maestro and cultivator of arts and culture from Cumanoacoa (where Glem's father was born), "Matapalo y Fuga" is a fast joropo featuring just cuatro, accordion, and Glem on vocals as they play their hearts out to a city Glem spent much of his childhood.
Reider wrote a lullaby for his dog "Huckleberry's Dream" with the complex rhythmic techniques employed in traditional Venezuelan folk music. Another joropo, they effortlessly go back and forth between 3/4 and 6/8 time-signatures. On "Skeleton Rag," the pace quickens with elements of ragtime, choro, and Klezmer. Paquito D'Rivera plays a smokin' solo atop the fierce comping of chords.
Channeling the parallels of Baroque music and traditional folk music of Latin America, "Ciaconna Caribe" finds throughlines of the Spanish colonial period between the lute, guitar and cuatro. With common chord progressions, joropo is undeniably related to flamenco and/or Baroque forms. "Coroticos" is a Venezuelan merengue in 5/8 and was composed by Glem for his niece and nephew who he lovingly calls "coroticos" (meaning "my little things").
Also, among the first songs they played together, "Crucigrama" was initially introduced to Reider and the Human Hands and they sped things up with a fast waltz feel. "Moonlight Merengue" closes out Brooklyn-Cumaná with a swaying 5/8 rhythm. Reider admits, "Often when I'm struggling to figure out a rhythm, writing a composition using that specific technique is the best way to understand it. I wrote this slow Merengue, using a simple 5-note motif." The only song on Brooklyn-Cumaná with Reider on piano, he channels the great Cuban legend Rubén Gonzáles.
Glem and Reider release Brooklyn-Cumaná in November 2022 following milestones for their respective careers. Glem just performed with renowned conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic on July 28, 2022. Glem performed a premiere Solo Concerto for Cuatro entitled "Odisea" (composed by Venezuelan composer Gonzalo Grau for the Los Angeles Philharmonic), which received a standing ovation. Glem will perform in Jon Batiste's much-anticipated "American Symphony" Concert at Carnegie Hall on September 22, 2022.
Reider released in July 2022 his first record of solo piano music, Petrichor. The title refers to the smell of the earth after a first rain and the eight original compositions on Petrichor form a musical reflection on Reider's recent homecoming to San Francisco after 10 years in New York City. Petrichor has received critical praise, and is described by Associated Press reviewer Steven Wine as "delightfully distinctive" and by the San Francisco Chronicle as "Destined to spark your creativity, imagination and wanderlust for the natural world."
For additional detailed information, please visit: samreidermusic.com/brooklyn-cumana