El Clan Destino
Today's highlighted Madison-based musical act is El Clan Destino.
Afro-Cuban jazz drawing in rock, funk, flamenco and hip-hop, with elements both traditional and raucous, make up the musical stew cooked by the four members of El Clan Destino. The band consists of Vincent Fuh (keyboards), Nickolas Moran (electric and upright bass), Frank Martinez (drums and timbales), and Jamie Ryan (congas, bata, and percussion). All contribute vocals.
They describe their sound as "Chucho Valdez meets Los Munequitos de Matanzas at a P-Funk All-Stars show that Manolito opens up, with special guest McCoy Tyner on piano and Me'Shell Ndegeocello on bass."
Here is the group's bio:
When Martinez moved to Madison from Florida in 2004, Madisalsa members Fuh and Moran saw a rare opportunity to form the band they've long considered but never thought possible. Martinez, a veteran of Florida's Latin music scene, brought an exciting and powerful drumming style that would become the centerpiece of this band. Add Ryan, a veteran of the Tony Casteneda Latin Jazz Sextet, newly returned to Madison, and the quartet would be complete. While the quartet features hard-hitting renditions of works by Chucho Valdez, Michel Camilo, and Chano Dominquez (all innovators in Latin jazz piano), the members have expanded their material to include progressive originals and arrangements of indigenous sacred and secular vocal music of Cuba.
Not long after forming, El Clan Destino started work on their debut release. The band started recording at DNA in the autumn of 2004, where their live tracks were later "embellished with vocal overdubs as well as sequenced loops and beats" as described by the studio. They returned there late in 2005 to focus on mixing and mastering tracks recorded over the previous year. By last summer, they were ready to release Rukus, featuring eight tracks of their cross-genre instrumental Cuban music.
Rukus received good marks from Isthmus staff writer Tom Laskin, who described the album as an "inventive fusion of Latin and jazz styles." He wrote:
The album makes an especially strong case for the keyboard skills of Vincent Fuh, who penned five of the album's eight tracks. Whether he's offering up stabbing block chords, ruminating Bill Evans-style on his flamenco-flavored ballad "Andalucia" or rolling through syncopated rhythmic figures on "Salome," Fuh is always impressive. Martinez, conga player Jamie Ryan and bassist Nick Moran bring a welcome vivacity to the interlocking rhythms that motivate most tracks, but they mostly come across as supporting players on Rukus. The roles are reversed on the album-ending title cut. Both percussionists are mixed front and center on the Martinez-penned tune, and the band's jazz side is diminished
As for El Clan Destino's live show, that's the place to truly catch the band in action. "That's where their music really ignites," Laskin concluded.
There is quite a bit of the group's music available for listening at elclandestinomusic.com, including four cuts from Rukus along with several live tracks taken from club shows and radio appearances. Each comes with a brief description from a band member, too. For example, Martinez describes the song "El Rukus" at 'a rawer track that featured more of the pocket, and gave Nicky some love!" Also, four of El Clan Destino's songs can currently be found at their MySpace page, namely "Obatala outro," "Undine," and two others.
Since releasing the album, the group has been busy hitting the stage, particularly at various clubs and restaurants in downtown Madison. El Clan Destino played one show per night over the final three days of 2006 to cap off their big year, took a month's breather as the weather turned cold, and are returning to action on Thursday, Feb. 8, when they hit the stage at the King Club. The band is anticipating the gig, writing:
What can we say? We absolutely love playing the King Club. From the start, we've always wanted to step outside that comfortable label of "Latin jazz," and the KC allows us to blow it to smithereens. Don't get us wrong. The band members all have great respect for the Latin jazz genre. It's just that it doesn't work at the high decibels we demand. We will never diminish the KC's reputation as a rock club.
El Clan Destino isn't slowing down after this weekend, playing Restaurant Magnus every month along with shows at the UW Mills Music Hall, a quick jaunt north to the UP just after the start of spring, and an Overture after Work happy hour performance.
This is the latest featured entry from the Madison Music Project, an online database of Madison-area musicians. Please register or update your current profile on the project for consideration in these highlights.