Waves de Ache – Forward Motion

Columbus-based collective Waves de Aché is releasing its debut studio album Forward Motion (album art by Bernard Iannone) with a fiesta this weekend and an upcoming tour of parts East and Midwest. Waves de Aché is hosting a joint Cinco de Mayo and Album Release Party on Sunday, May 5th at Brothers Drake. Doors open at 7pm, music starts at 8pm, and cover is $5. As the band explains, “Waves de Aché blends together Cuban jazz with American hip-hop, rock and funk, creating a sound that is forward thinking while rooted in tradition. Aché is a term from Santeria religion referencing a positive life force energy that is experienced more easily than explained.” The band was co-founded by Capital alums Will Strickler (bass) and Max Marsillo (percussion), “a couple Ohio boys raised on rock and hip-hop, who studied jazz and then fell in love with the music of Cuba. Imagine if Snarky Puppy had been born from a salsa band.” With a lineup filled out by some of the region’s finest musicians, the band has crafted a warm and passionate release that continues to reveal more details the more you listen. Keep reading for my thoughts on the album, as well as tour details.

A lovely solo passage by pianist Ben Maloney kicks off album opener “Bird from the Night,” penned by Marsillo and based on Chopin’s “Nocturne in Eb Major,” which expands into a sunny horn-driven stroll, showcasing Tommy Lehman on trumpet, Kevin O’Neill on saxophones, and Ben Crowder on trombone. The horns, Marsillo, and drummer Zach Compston all share zesty solos that amplify the laid-back party vibe. Strickler’s “N.F.G.” opens with an irresistible piano pattern and develops into a fiery, uplifting tune that the septet pushes forward with a nimble tempo. The tight rhythms and moodier shifts of Marsillo’s “Cat’s Paw” is another worthy vehicle for the ensemble’s collective muscle, especially Lehman’s sizzling trumpet and O’Neill’s ascending saxophone parts. Strickler’s infectious melody “In Search Of” takes the album’s sound to a more contemplative place, which is well-suited to Crowder’s subdued and building trombone and Strickler’s electric bass explorations before the band climaxes as a nuanced whole.

Maloney’s piano reignites the energy to open Strickler’s “Break Down The Gates,” and the union of well-spaced horn riffs and a lively piano-driven rhythm creates an arresting sound before solo adventures. Strickler’s “The Difference Is Night And Day” employs a modern fusion swagger, powered by the expert rhythm section, and the cascading horn lines alternating with powerful piano riffs add to the air of excitement. Originally an improvisation exercise, Maloney’s “Stay On It!” stretches into a twisting and turning nine minute showpiece, with the piano in a starring role, along with O’Neill’s steady saxophone, setting the tone for excellent solo work from the cast. Dedicated by Strickler to his father and based on the traditional Appalachian hymn “What Wondrous Love Is This,” “Unending Wonder” is supremely well-chosen as the finale, summing up the band’s ability to share personal favorite elements of American song lovingly shaded with Cuban rhythms and high-level musical energy.

Forward Motion is highly recommended to fans of jazz, Latin music and American music as a whole, as this carefully crafted collection has something to offer all listeners. If you can’t catch the band live to pick up an album – see below for their busy May itinerary – stay tuned for online release details at the band’s website and look for the album on streaming services. Check out live video of the band below:

Waves de Aché May Tour Dates

Friday, May 10th: Rockwood Music Hall – New York, NY

Sunday, May 12th: Epicure Cafe – Fairfax, VA

Thursday, May 16th: 4th Floor Live at the Jazz Academy (Lincoln Theatre) – Columbus, OH

Tuesday, May 21st: The Soap Gallery – Youngstown, OH

Wednesday, May 22nd: Pub Bricco – Akron, OH

Thursday, May 23rd: BOP STOP @ The Music Settlement – Cleveland, OH

Friday, May 24th: Cliff Bell’s – Detroit, MI

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