Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


January/February 2013: Sean Sam

Trio Bembe & Rambling Dan Frechette: Blue Latin

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When musicians of different styles collaborate with the intent to understand each other better, we, the lucky listeners, get to see the musical fireworks that result. You’ll want to be at the Park Theatre on January 25, when Trio Bembe and Rambling Dan Frechette combine forces for the first show of Jazz Winnipeg’s 2013 Nu Sounds series.

This combination of folk, blues, and Latin music is not without precedent. Guitarist Ry Cooder’s work with Cuban musicians in 1997 resulted in the best-selling album Buena Vista Social Club, which exposed traditional Cuban music to a larger audience. Trio Bembe continues this thread with a wider variety of Latin music.

Started in 2009 by the fearless and passionate vocalist Amber Epp, Trio Bembe also features Rodrigo Muñoz (of Papa Mambo) on guitar/vocals, and Scott Senior on percussion. The music they play is drawn from many different Latin countries, to reflect their own unique heritages and influences. Rodrigo hails from Chile, Scott has studied percussion in Cuba and Brazil, while Amber (a native of not-so-Latin Steinbach MB) found her way to Latin music through extended travels in Cuba. Whatever Trio Bembe plays, you can be sure that it will be full of contagious rhythm and you will be up and out of your seat before you know it!

Last year, Rodrigo started getting together with Winnipeg singer-songwriter Rambling Dan Frechette, as Dan wanted to better learn the intricate rhythms that make up Latin music. This resulted in more collaboration between the two, including a forthcoming album of “Latin reggae” to be released at this concert. Dan, for those who don’t know him, is a serious musical force in his own right: he has written over 1300 songs of folk music wound tight with the blues, and rather incredibly, once released 8 albums in 8 months! He has been described as “a walking folk festival” for good reason.

The best way to try out any new collaboration is on a gig, therefore Trio Bembe and Rambling Dan played their first show together at the Bella Vista in the spring of 2012. They knew it was magic right away, and when Jazz Winnipeg put out the call for the Nu Sounds series, they were eager to be a part this season.

Amber observes that “Latin music is like a sponge. It soaks up the other music around it no matter where it is in the world.” This is very true for their upcoming show with Rambling Dan. You can expect to hear some of Dan’s songs overlaid with Latin grooves from Trio Bembe, and some Trio Bembe originals freshened up with the blues vibe of Dan’s steel guitar.

Be at the Park Theatre on January 25—and don’t forget your dancing shoes!


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