By Mike Sembos
10:40 AM EDT, October 16, 2013
Rick Reyes is best known around Fairfield County as frontman of the Latin rock band Cosmic Jibaros, one of the more consistently-strong locally-based bands of the past decade. But as often happens when playing with one group for a long span of time, Reyes felt an itch to record with some other folks too.
"I had some songs that I thought served themselves better to a different vehicle than the Cosmic Jibaros," he says. "I also wanted to work with some friends like Rick Zurkowky on bass and Obanilu Ire Allende on percussion. I always wanted to make an acoustic album with upright bass, hand drum and acoustic guitar — a very simple record."
The result is Novela Sin Tiempo, Reyes' first proper solo album (Translation: Story Without Time). It was recorded at the Carriage House in Stamford by Grammy nominee engineer Brendan Muldowney, and it's going to be released Saturday night via a party at the Bijou Theatre.
"Being part of a band, there's a certain democracy that takes place," says Reyes. "For this, in both a good way and a bad way, I was the guy that was calling the shots."
All but one of the songs on the album are sung in Spanish except for one. There were no full drum kits used in the recording process. And no click tracks. There are some cello parts that were played by another Grammy nominee, Dave Eggar.
Reyes is calling it "world music," and just as calling Cosmic Jibaros "Latin rock" opens some doors and closes other, so will this new label.
"My big sticking point with the 'world music' label is that [people] think world music these days has to come from somewhere in the woods of Africa, or it has to be some roots-oriented project from the mountains somewhere in South or Central America. I think that as the world continues to evolve, that is not the case," he says. "This is a world music album that comes from some dude in Bridgeport, Connecticut that was born here and raised in Puerto Rico and grew up listening to all sorts of music and made this mesh with guys with a similar background... We live in a society where you need a label, and I don't know what other label to call it."
The 6/8 rhythms that infiltrate the album could originally be of Mexican origin. Or maybe Cuban, or Chilean. But this new blend is most certainly of Bridgeport origin.
"There's so much more music, there's so much information," says Reyes. "But when you make music, you just make music."
Some Cosmic Jibaros material in the past has dealt with protest, and political issues, but this record is more about succeeding in overcoming one's problems. It's an overwhelmingly positive record. The songs deal with daring to dream despite the struggles and roadblocks in life, and finding the courage to step into the unknown.
"People fall in love with the struggle," says Reyes. "With a struggle. This record is about not struggling, but moving ahead. A song like 'La Cadena' which translates to 'The Chain' talks about that — breaking the chain that doesn't allow you to move forward. A song like 'El Ladron de los Suenos,' which means 'The Thief of the Dream,' is about not allowing anyone to take your thunder away. Make your own way."
There are also a couple of love songs mixed in as well.
"I love love songs," says Reyes. "It's kind of hard to play love songs with a hard rockin' band. Hard rockin' dudes don't like love songs."
Sat., Oct. 19, 8 p.m. The Bijou Theatre, 275 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport. (203) 332-3228. $18-$30. thebijoutheatre.com