Venezuelan percussionist Edwin Sanz released ‘Overflow’, his second solo record, on September 23, 2016 through the imprint of celebrated UK musician Alex Wilson.
‘Overflow’ is a no-messin' record of punchy salsa married with gospel vocals and Latin-funk grooves. Showcasing a wealth of international influences and guest performers, it's a super soulful set packed with Edwin's heavy brass section. Unapologetically polished, it manages to retain a fiercely fresh and authentic sound. Highlights include a high octane salsafied version of Screaming Jay Hawkins's 'I Put a Spell on You' (co-produced by Alex Wilson) and a renewal of Fred Hammond's gospel classic 'We're Blessed' led by Nicky Brown from the London Community Gospel Choir.
Many Latin fans will be aware of Edwin's many successful years as conguero with European based Mercadonegro who Edwin continues to tour with playing on Latin stages across the continent. Yet his career as a solo artist and touring musician is less well known. In 2012 he travelled the globe with Rodrigo & Gabriela as part of their Cuban Area 52 project. In 2014 his band were named as 'Best Latin Group' at Glastonbury Festival and the same year they worked the crowd at Montreux Jazz Festival – both shows were part of a tour to support his debut album 'San Agustin'. He's performed and recorded with a diverse set of world renowned artists including Adalberto Santiago, Africando, Gypsy Kings, Jose Alberto Canario, Isaac Delgado, Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz and Malia yet its tight relationship with friend, mentor and long-time collaborator and world music composer, producer and pianist Alex Wilson that has been so integral to his transformation from immigrant session musician to European bandleader.
Born and raised in San Agustin, a working class province of Caracas in Venezuela, Edwin came from a poor but loving family, sharing a room with his many brothers and sisters. At the young age of 6, Edwin was encouraged by his parents to join the dance group ‘Grupo Madera’ by way of introduction from his uncle (a professional dancer and choreographer). Showcasing Afro-Caribbean and Venezuelan culture through the medium of dance, Grupo Madera, with a youthful Edwin, travelled all over South America and Europe. At 14, by this time a fully-fledged member, Edwin made the life changing decision to play percussion.
He remained an important fixture of the group until the age of 18, but at this point he'd dedicated himself to the vocation of becoming a professional percussionist. He immediately moved to Paris where western musical influences coloured and enhanced his repertoire. He describes his years living in Paris as 'inspirationally crucial'.
As well as his personal artistic pursuits, Edwin teaches percussion at the Conservatoire of Music in Geneva. From a student of dance in Venezuela to a teacher and mentor to young adults in Switzerland Edwin takes the view, "It is important to work with young people because you are planting seeds for the future".
‘Overflow’ is undeniably another seed planted for Edwin. Recorded in January at the Chamonix studio of famous French pianist and TV singing competition judge, Andre Manoukian it's a collaborative record. As well as co production and performance duties by Alex Wilson it features a key figure, the album producer and trumpeter Oscar Cordero “Chucky” (Venezuela) who is well known as a leading light in the new generation of salsa plus saxophonist Paul Booth (UK) who plays with Steve Winwood and Dimitris Christopoulos (Greece) on bass. The record was engineered by veteran Jose Mendoza whose father recorded so many of the classic Oscar de Leon albums.
The record weaves in and out of different genres beginning with the reinvention of gospel number ‘We’re Blessed,’ featuring Nicky Brown (choir arranger for Bloc Party's new album and co-producer on this). ‘Ella’ and ‘Eres Tú' feature tropes of popular salsa smash hits; crystal clear cowbells, melancholy yet romantic lyrics and captivating melodies. ‘I Put a Spell on You’ modernises the infamous blues classic with a funky R’n’B meets Latino twist. Fans of Level 42 will recognise the version of 'Something About You' with vocals by original member, Mike Lindup.
'Overflow' is a modern salsa record created in Europe. Sanz marries his Venezuelan roots with European influences in an original work that features international musicians from diverse backgrounds. By doing so, he fosters a cultural exchange where cultures and experiences collide and grow. Something he has been doing all his life.
Written by Duncan Ballantyne