Sammy Figueroa – Searching For A Memory (ENG review)

Busco Tu Recuerdo // Ashé Records – Street date 07/03/2023
World Music
Sammy Figueroa - Searching For A Memory (FR review)

There are albums whose style you don’t even need to understand, and they captivate you from the first notes of the first track… “Searching For A Memory” (Busco Tu Recuerdo) is one of those albums, and honestly, to overlook it would be a real crime! available…
“My father Charlie Figueroa was a singer of romantic boleros in the 1950s, one of the best, whose records still sell to this day. But he passed away as a young man, when I was just a little boy, a victim of his ‘bohemian lifestyle.’ But those who knew him, from Eddie Palmieri and Yomo Toro to Charlie’s sister, my Aunt Blanca, all say that I look like him, that I have the same sense of humor and that I inherited his musical talent”, Figueroa reflected.
Charlie’s greatest hit single was “Busco Tu Recuerdo,” in which he sings of searching for the memory of his loved one only to discover that there is no memory, only a dream. This parallels Sammy’s experience – he never really knew his dad – when he searches for a memory of his father, all he finds is a dream. The dream is within reach here, with highly poetic lyrics and warmly arranged music, jazz-infused boleros that strike your soul like the sound of a wave crashing against rocks after a storm. Here, the bolero reaches its pinnacle, like a timeless art, like a Dali painting that hasn’t dried yet, blame it on the melting clocks that slowly rewind time, a temporality so precisely conveyed by this exquisite musical photography orchestrated by Sammy Figueroa.
Joining Sammy on “Searching For A Memory” are two musical greats: pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba and vocalist Aymée Nuviola. Their unique bond and emotional outpouring that came to the fore during the recording of the album are deeply embedded in the music. Here, the classic melodies of Charlie’s most famous boleros have been transformed into modern Latin jazz arrangements with elements of son montuno, cha-cha, plena/bomba, mariachi, samba, rumba, and just great clave-based Latin jazz. Half of the collection is instrumental, while the remaining half is punctuated by the high-flying and emotionally charged vocals of Nuviola and Sammy himself, who rediscovered his own voice during the making of this album. He shines on the title track, which was one of his father’s most prominent hits. And then there are these perfect instrumentalists, MacArthur Genius Puerto Rican saxophonist Miguel Zenon, multiple GRAMMY-winning trumpeter and arranger John Daversa, the brilliant Cuban saxophonist Felipe LaMoglia, Cuban flutist Magalys Herrera, Puerto Rican bassist Ricardo Rodriguez, and Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Munir Hossn, where talent adds to talent, where you can feel the musicians’ connection to each other even in the listening experience, this way of managing the sonic space to sublimate a voice, a note of an instrument, as if the wings of an angel were gently brushing you…
This album is a whole culture, with a captivating charm. On “Searching For A Memory,” Sammy Figueroa turns buried emotions into gorgeous musical expression. With the support of his musical family, the process gave Sammy the strength and joy to forgive his father and heal from his chaotic childhood. For this reason, he dedicates this album not only to Charlie Figueroa but to all children who grow up without fathers. How better to thank such a beautiful project than by elevating it to the ranks of the “Essential” albums under the watchful eyes of the editorial teams of Bayou Blue Radio and Paris-Move.

Thierry De Clemensat
Correspondent in USA
Bayou Blue News – Bayou Blue Radio – Paris-Move

PARIS-MOVE, July 2nd 2023