Ruben Caban – Kangana (ENG review)

Self-Released – Street Date Frebruary 12th 2024
Afro Cuban, Jazz Funk

Here is a spicy album that jazz/funk and Afro-Cuban-inspired music lovers will enjoy. It offers a journey beyond borders and a delightful experience. Ruben Caban, a trombonist and composer, has an impressive biography. Born in Puerto Rico, he has performed and recorded as a sideman and soloist with internationally renowned artists from various genres, including Frankie Valli, Jon Secada, Raul Diblasio, Ed Calle, Nicole Henry, Dianne Shurr, Randy Brecker, Herbie Hancock, Arturo Sandoval, Ira Sullivan, The Platters, The Stylistics, Roberto Carlos, Sandra De Sa, Nestor Torres, The O’Jays, Cheo Feliciano, Giovanni Hidalgo, Vico C, Oscar De Leon, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Victor Manuel, Michael Stuart, La India, Paquito De Rivera, and was part of Ed Calle’s Latin Grammy-winning album “Ed Calle Presents Mamblue” in 2015, among others.
With a broad musical background, one can easily sense the diverse influences that make this composer an exceptional artist. Caban utilizes arrangements and musical elements reminiscent of Carlos Santana, Tower Of Power, and Neo Soul with great delicacy and targeted intelligence, surpassing many productions of similar genres. His compositions blend Taino melodies and Neo Soul with jazz improvisation and harmony. In addition to his original Latin fusion compositions like “Kangana” and “Phat CRB,” Caban includes well-known standards such as Wayne Shorter’s “Yes or No” and Pat Metheny’s “Song for Bilbao.” He also incorporates indigenous Taino prayers set to music by jazz vocalist and Taino folklorist Janice R. Torres.
Caban highlights some of the finest talents from South Florida in his arrangements, including Grammy-winning legends Nestor Torres on flute, Ed Calle on saxophone, and master percussionists Richard Bravo and Edwin Bonilla. He also features the Grammy-nominated Argentine jazz singer Roxana Amed. Caban has assembled a group of new jazz talents, including Tal Cohen, Kemuel Roig, and Peter Wallace on piano, Camilo Velandia on guitar, David Chiverton, Waldo Madera, and Ludwig Afonso on drums, and Ramses Araya and Brian Potts on percussion, with Agustin Conti and Eric England on bass. The brass section includes Francisco Dimas on trumpet, David Fernandez and Mark Small on tenor saxophone.
This ability to blend genres is a hallmark of today’s great jazz artists, and the similarities between Latin music and African-American music are apparent. However, it is Caban’s unique treatment of these genres that makes his style impressive and unpredictable, executed with precision akin to a Jedi master wielding a lightsaber. This album holds a special significance as it also includes the final recording sessions of the late trumpeter, mentor, local hero, and educator James Hacker, who unexpectedly passed away last summer. His presence can be heard on Rafael Valencia’s “Pueblo Nuevo” and Russell Ferrante’s “Imperial Strut,” alongside Grammy-winning guitarist Camilo Velandia.
Thus, we have before us one of the great albums of this prolific early year in the jazz scene, which embodies pluralism and innovation.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, February 1st 2024



1. Kangana (5:39) by Ruben Caban
2. Chovendo Una Roseira (7:05) by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Gene Lees/Arr. Jeremy Levy
3. Phat CRB (8:20) by Ruben Caban
4. Taino Prayer Song (Huracana Suite) (7:12) by Janice R. Torres/ Arr. Ruben Caban
5. Pueblo Nuevo (7:32) by Rafael Valencia
6. Song For Bilbao (7:45) by Pat Metheny
7. Imperial Strut (7:22) by Russell Ferrante
8. Yes or No (9:19) by Wayne Shorter
9. Our Day Will Come 6:43