One of the best experiences left by the International Jazz Festival in its 38th edition is having been there, in one of the seats of the Teatro Martí, when the curtain opened and the son of Xiomara Laugart and Alberto Tosca began to play, without any break, the piano.
Axel, talented to the core, amply demonstrated it during the concert he offered, accompanied by bassist Daniel Winshall and drummer David Frazier Jr., with whom he usually performs in a trio format that they identify with the initials of their last names: WTF.
I didn't know, and I confess, that Axel was the pianist he is. From the grand piano to the reduced keyboard and the electric piano, he moved agile and fecund, even with his eyes closed, “giving birth” to the music. Afri Asia, I love you, Tribute to Chick Corea ... In all the songs there was constant and open communication with his musicians, who dazzled in his solos.
The sounds that Axel extracted from the pianos were totally amazing, unexpected, eloquent, and consistent with a musical discourse that he has endeavored to develop and evolve in his hands. New York, specifically Brooklyn, is the fundamental catalyst because "you can't do half measures in a city like that."
Last February, Louie Vega launched Expansions, a new club night in Manhattan that served as an act of community service as much as an outlet for creative expression. Aimed at dancers and friends, Expansions NYC brought a “much-needed dose of authentic nightlife fever,” as the information went, to midweek in Chelsea.
Less than a year later, Louie is planning an album under the umbrella of Expansions, heralded by this new “preview EP.” Expansions in the NYC is a five-track release with featured performers Janine Sugah Lyrics Lyons, Anané, and Axel Tosca. The overall vibe is one of soul, smooth soul, dedicated as the first track and introduction says it “a place where we can all be free.” “Harvest Time” features a spectacular vibing organ workout from the aforementioned Cuban-born pianist and band leader Axel Tosca. “Cosmic Witch” with Anané brings the soul-with-strings and a spirit that raises the roof right off the rafters.
If we’re to gather anything from the preview pack, Expansions in the NYC is likely to be a very different animal than Louie’s acclaimed NYC Disco LP from last year – a sound at once more intimate and “expanded” you could say by some world-class collaborations and musicianship. Can’t wait. Don’t wait.
“There is a place that we go / to let it all flow / to hear the maestro / no cares or worries,” sings Janine Sugah Lyrics Lyons on Louie Vega’s “A Place Where We Can All Be Free.” The aforementioned maestro is Vega, a U.S. dance pioneer who makes house music that’s as authentic and soulful as it gets The place in question is his weekly club night, Expansions NYC. Made alongside regular collaborators Gene Perez and Axel Tosca, “Place” sounds like a jam session with fluttering jazzy keys, divine chords and a silky-smooth bassline. While it’s named specifically for Expansions, the track really can be a tribute to any club, anywhere, where a person feels they can completely surrender themselves, their worries, and insecurities, to the rhythm of the night. “Place” is part of Vega’s Expansions in the NYC (Preview) EP, with a proper album en route. -- K.R.
New York Latin Culture Magazine
Axel Tosca is one of New York City’s best Cuban timba pianists.
Xiomara Laugart joins Tosca at Zinc Bar
Travelers to Havana’s José Marti airport are often greeted with the sounds of Xiomara singing Guantanamera. She really is a Guantanamera, a woman from Guantanamo.
Xiomara is known as a Cuban Trova singer. Trova is Cuban folk music that is often sung in protest just like the music of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and others in the United States.
When Xiomara sings, you just have to stop and dream. How wonderful to hear her in an intimate club-like Zinc Bar.
Cuban pianist and composer Axel Tosca Laugart formed his genre-bending band (U)nity back in 2006 and has been wowing audiences ever since. (Fellow musical chameleon Robert Glasper says of the five-person collective, "I saw them cats uptown for the very first time and it blew my mind...I went home and thought about it all night, it was crazy"). That's why Laugart is our TALENT SCOUT Artist of the Week.