Signed to French label Nø Førmat, the French-Cuban septet Que Vola? are set to release their debut self-titled album on the 25th January. The origin of the name come from the Cuban street slang greeting ‘What’s up?’ The group was formed when French jazz trombonist Fidel Fourneyron traveled to Havana in order to fully immerse himself in the percussive music of Afro-Cuban cult classics such as Santería/Regla de Ocha and Palo. This experience sparked Fidel to re-imagine the existing Cuban music he’d become obsessed by, with a brass section reinterpreting the vocal sections, And so, Que Vola? was born, with 3 Cuban percussionists joined by a French jazz septet lead by Fourneyron.
I was lucky enough to listen to Que Vola? ahead of the official release of the album on the 25th January, and it really is a treat! Throughout, it’s evident how much heart went into making this album. The percussion on this album is sublime, as the drumming and rhythms throughout are absolutely stunning. The title track is an incredible 7-minute thriller, with drum breakdowns, trombones and saxophones intertwined brilliantly and an emphatic energy provide grooves upon grooves. “Calle Luz,” which is the lead single provides is slower in pace but grows as the track progresses, to pretty spectacular results, with the brass and wind sections perfectly complementing the drumming throughout. The seven compositions are arranged like the stages of a ceremonial journey, with every stage bringing the listener closer to the beating heart of this musical encounter. And what a mesmerising journey it it! Ending with “Resistir,” a phenomenal 11-minute epic finale that takes the listener back through Afro-Cuban history, with its light and shadow, its joy and darkness overcome by the resilience of an entire people, its hard-earned liberty won with music. In between lies a trance-like journey, a virtuoso ride with mind, heart and limbs fully engaged.
I’m really excited about where Que Vola? go from here, because their debut album sounds fantastic! You can listen to their lead single “Calle Luz” below via YouTube, and pre-order their debut album Que Vola? here. Released via Nø Førmat Records.