Sammy Figueroa: Freedom Latin Jazz Dance

Back From Coproducer To Artist

Over the years, there’s been an evolving transformation of Figueroa and Faro’s professional relationship, namely, from coproducers to artist and producer. While Faro obtained the deal with the Highnote/Savant label that resulted in the first two releases, the new album has some added flair. “Urban Nature was financed by Senator Entertainment, in Berlin,” says Faro. “Their CEO, Helge Sasse, is an old friend of mine and has financed many of our projects, including the Cuban ones. Through Mr. Sasse’s structuring, the record is going to be coming out on its own imprint, distributed by !K7, a highly successful electronica/dance label and distributor, which is opening up to other music, such as distributing the Fania catalog in Europe.” In addition, Figueroa’s Latin Jazz Explosion band plans to tour and promote the album during 2011.

And while all this activity is happening around Figueroa, Faro is frank when she says, “Sammy could use a real good manager with clout at this point in his career.” And, she goes on to add, “One thing I haven’t been able to do is to get Sammy to sing on his recordings. He has a beautiful voice and I still hope that we can do that for the next album. His father, Charlie Figueroa, was a well-known sentimental Latin singer and, as you know, Sammy started his career as a singer with Bobby Valentin. He just needs to brush up.”

(In his own defense, Figueroa let’s it be known: “The vocal thing, I’m gonna do it on the next album.” In fact, his singing has already emerged, with his touching “Duermete Mi Cielito,” from ... And Sammy Walked In.)

“Right now,” Faro summarizes, “the gig with Sonny Rollins is creating a great balance between creative accompanist and his solo career. Musically, I see Sammy as someone who has musical talent in every cell of his body, but as a solo artist, needs someone to help bring out his vision and guide and direct things so that they can manifest, which I see as my role.”

In addition to his very popular Monday night gig as a local radio DJ in Miami (where he is exposed to and plays all kinds of music), as well as fronting his Miami-based Cal Tjader tribute band Sally’s Tomato, Figueroa does keep that singer in him alive, if only in the studio. Alluding to food and cooking, he says, “When you’re talking to musicians like Silvano Monasterios and Gabriel Vivas — who are also composers — and you’re telling them what you want, it’s like asking a chef to make you an original dish: You don’t know what it’s going to taste like, but you have an idea of what you want it to taste like. So, I was describing to the guys what I wanted, and how I wanted it, and I sang it to them vocally.

“When Silvano and Gabriel [who wrote most of the material] presented the music to me for Urban Nature,” Figueroa concludes, “I ended up getting exactly what I wanted, and they delivered the record even better than I anticipated. The tastes and the flavors are just fantastic — a lot of flavors that I wanted, including the Latin thing, the sort of European-ish salsa style, and the jazz. I always try to do music for people that they will like, that they’ll play on the radio, and they’ll call me all the time and say, ‘Hey, Sammy, what was that you played?’

“It’s like turning you on to a nice CD ... you gotta buy this CD. It’s great!”

Sammy Figueroa

Drums Pearl Elite Congas (Cosmic Sparkle)
1 11" x 30" Quinto
2 11.75" x 30" Conga
3 12.5" x 30" Tumba
4 Pearl Marc Quiñones Timbales
5 Pearl Elite Bongos

Cymbals Sabian
A 17" HHX Special FX Thin Hand Crash
B 14" HHX Special FX Thin Splash

Percussion Pearl
C PBL-30 Clave Block
D New Yorker Cha Cha Bell
E Pearl toys include 32-bar chimes, shekere, maracas, cabasa, guiro

Sammy Figueroa also uses Pearl hardware and heads, and Vic Firth sticks

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