Azteca From the Ruins
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- Released: February 23, 2009
- Originally Released: 2009
- Label: Inakustik
Song previews provided courtesy of iTunes
The live recording From the Ruins is Azteca's first album in 35 years and represents a reunion of this Santana spin-off band originally led by percussionist Coke Escovedo that split up in 1976. Filmmaker Daniel E. Meza, who provides liner notes, was responsible for putting the group back together for his documentary Azteca: La Piedra del Sol, along with Coke Escovedo's brother Pete Escovedo, also a percussionist and original bandmember. (Coke Escovedo died in 1986.) They convinced seven other musicians who were among the 20 or so to play in Azteca in its early years and appear on its two Columbia Records LPs Azteca (1972) and Pyramid of the Moon (1973) to rehearse and play a show at the Key Club in Hollywood, CA, on September 15, 2007. Also included were four additional players to make up a 12-piece band consisting of two singer/percussionists, two percussionist/singers, four horns (two reeds and two brass), keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums. Large as that ensemble might seem, it is smaller than the 17-member Azteca that appeared on the first album. But the group still plays up a storm, and, performing songs from those two albums, it is still a jazz-rock band with Latin percussion, Pete Escovedo's timbales and Victor Pantoja's congas leading the way, with plenty of solos for the horns, guitarist Bill Courtial, and keyboardist Murray Low (one of the new members). As Pete Escovedo notes in his stage remarks, the lyrics he, Pantoja, and singers Wendy Haas and Errol Knowles sing express idealistic and anti-war sentiments typical of their time (titles include "New Day Is on the Rise" and "Peace Everybody"), but he adds that they are also relevant to 2007, which seems true enough. From the Ruins resurrects a worthy, if nearly forgotten musical project that, for its adherents falls into the "shoulda been, coulda been" category of artists deserving of greater recognition who, for whatever reasons, never reached the level of success it might have. (Among the uncredited guests pitching in on the encore, "Whatcha Gonna Do," is Pete Escovedo's daughter Sheila E., who was a member of Azteca in its latter stages.) ~ William Ruhlmann
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