RG Royal Sound Orchestra

The making of this album is an act of loyalty to music and a search inspired on the virtuosity of a performance. The open possibilities of taking up again all those themes that have branded the musical imagination of countless generations and nations are an attractive challenge for someone that firmly believes that music is made to be heard.

Though this last statement may appear unwarranted, it is evident that the entertainment industry along with the modern technology that has been applied to music have conspired - in the typical paradox of progress - against music´s singular sound essence, opting for the visual image over sound or for technological sophistication over the performer´s sheer talent. This is why we have chosen to bring back the essence of music through the magic derived from the sounds of traditional instruments, accompanied only by the talent and acoustic creativity of the performers and musicians that have partaken on this project.

The CD you are currently holding is a tribute to the "purest" values of music; the encounter and counterpoint of horns and drums, strings, Piano with hand-clapping in perfect harmony. To that end, we assume the post-modern legacy evident, from this moment on and resulting in this original "FUSION" which joins the traditional jazz band sound with the flamenco heritage that is itself rooted in emotion, improvisation and rhythm.

The tracks for "Impact" have been meticulously selected with particular importance noted to their significance in the project. This compilation hopes to pay tribute to our rich musical heritage, especially amidst the current values allotted by the music industry, that hold as its defining characteristic the need to impose its standards dictating that visual image is far more relevant than either the sound or the performer´s talent.

This is not about negating the process and elements that make up music history. The entire process assimilates a legacy that takes place in the present sound, though, modern times have relegated to the universities, libraries and centers of higher learning that musical tendency that some identify as either classical, select, instrumental or simply as conservatory music.

Musical culture, like any other artistic process is built from contrasts, cancelling out tradition, or re-examining various tendencies, thus no path that may lead to enrichment through music as an integrative act should be excluded. From our perspective, rescuing the inherent meaning in music is the key to reinstating the values that have shaped our realities and our own self awareness. While the generalization or the lightly labeled explanation of music based on the use of various electronic means for the creation of modern sounds dominates the music market and the mass media praises image, the remarkable musicians of the "RG Royal Sound Orchestra," through the outstanding release of "Impact" have created an opening, so that the new generations don´t run the risk of growing up without enjoying the magic created by an acoustic performance, the musician and his instrument. We are also thinking of our youth, limited by the cultural musical models of today. Our work will have been rewarded if these classic pieces, performed by the gifted musicians in this remarkable orchestra, are able to reach the musical sensibilities of the very young, making it their own. - Recaredo Gutiérrez

LINER NOTES: The main purpose behind the RG Royal Sound Orchestra, the vision of producer Recaredo Gutierrez, is to bring back good music. "In addition to Latin music, I love big bands," he says, "including that of Ray Conniff, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Damaso Perez Prado, and Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. I believe in a pure sound with no electronics. My goal is to have a new orchestra play classic music for today's audience."

Gutierrez was the founder of the Tropicana All Stars Big Band which recorded a Grammy-nominated album in 2003 and was modeled after the legendary Benny More's "Banda Gigante." In putting together the RG Royal Sound Orchestra, he sought not only to bring back the sound of 1950s Cuban orchestras but to include more recent American standards (mostly from the 1960s and '70s) and the influence of flamenco from Spain.

Featured throughout this wonderful set is trumpeter Adalberto Lara who plays the beautiful melodies with lots of feeling. A veteran of such groups as Irakere, La Tipica Moderna, Orquesta de Musica Moderna, Cubanismo, and Tropicana All Stars, and one who has recorded with Emiliano Salvador, Generoso Jimenez, Paquito D'Rivera and Ruben Gonzalez among others, Lara has a classic Cuban wide vibrato which is perfect for embracing the themes of these songs.

Also heard in a featured role is tenor-saxophonist Ed Calle. He first became known in the jazz world for his work with trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, displaying the ability to challenge Sandoval in stirring upper register tradeoffs. Calle's solo albums have ranged from Afro-Cuban jazz to smooth, moody sets to r&b romps. His playing is always full of passion.

The 20-piece RG Royal Sound Orchestra, which is comprised of 13 horns and a seven-piece rhythm section that includes two guitarists and two percussionists, is an exciting new band on the music scene. On their well-titled Impact, they perform three arrangements apiece from musical director Mike Lewis and Hilario Duran plus two from Tony Taño, Jorge Arronte and Raul "Lulo" Perez. Duran, Arronte and Perez split the piano duties throughout the album. "People familiar with the original versions of 'I Left My Heart In San Francisco' and 'As Time Goes By' probably couldn't imagine these versions," says Gutierrez, "and that is true of all of these songs. 'O Sole Mio' certainly does not sound like it is a hundred years old.. Our arrangers came up with some very fresh ideas, bringing out the beauty of these timeless songs."

Adalberto Lara's dramatic trumpet is a major asset to the band, as can be heard on the opening "Hotel California." The impressive trumpet introductions to "My Way" and "Can't Help Falling In Love" are taken by Richard Gutierrez (Recaredo's son) who was 15 at the time and is a student of Lara's. The large rhythm section adds a great deal of rhythmic excitement to these pieces and a particularly spirited "Volare." "As Time Goes By," which was originally a flop when it debuted in the early 1930s, a decade before it was immortalized in Casablanca, has been recorded many times through the years. This version with Lara in the lead is quite unique.

All of the songs on Impact are quite danceable. The disco hit "That's The Way" is highlighted by some explosive Calle and the stirring rhythm section. "I Left My Heart In San Francisco," with its dense rhythms and infectious horn riffs, owes little to Tony Bennett other than the warm melody. Guitarist Lindsey Blair is a particularly important part of both of these performances.

"Strangers In The Night" and "Yesterday" are two songs that have been standards since the 1960s recordings of Frank Sinatra and the Beatles. The RG Royal Sound Orchestra manages to make both tunes sound as if they were written for this band. "New York, New York" and "Can't Help Falling In Love With You" are Latinized and sound like salsa standards. "O Sole Mio," written in 1898 and a major hit for the legendary opera singer Enrico Caruso, is brought into the 21st century in this transformation. This project ends all-too-soon with a very spirited and infectious version of "Macarena,"

There are plans for the RG Royal Sound Orchestra to perform concerts in Miami and at jazz festivals. Those promise to be exciting events for, as one can hear throughout Impact, the orchestra creates exciting music that is both very danceable and well worth listening to closely. As Recaredo Gutierrez says, "It is time for quality music to come back."

Scott Yanow,

Author of ten books including Afro-Cuban Jazz, The Jazz Singers, Jazz On Film, Trumpet Kings and Jazz On Record 1917-76