San Jose Mercury News

Trombonist/arranger Jamie Dubberly, who performs with his eight-piece Orquesta Dharma on the Latin jazz stage at 3 p.m., exemplifies the power of combining distinct traditions to create something savory and new. Last year he released "La Clave Del Gumbo," a project that combines Afro-Cuban dance music with New Orleans brass band cadences.

 The Modesto musician had an epiphany in 2011 performing with Orquesta Dharma at Cal State Stanislaus, where he's on the faculty. A student brass combo from a course he was teaching played an opening set, and for the concert's grand finale, they joined his band on a piece he designed to move from a New Orleans beat to a cha cha.  "That got me thinking," Dubberly says. "Clave rhythm is in the New Orleans thing. The second line came right out of Cuba. Putting them together made for a powerful combination. And I've always loved that Rebirth Brass Band/Dirty Dozen sound."

 Dubberly is hardly the first jazz musician to explore the kindred African currents running through New Orleans and Havana (percussionist Bill Summers and trumpeter Irvin Mayfield's Los Hombres Calientes spent a decade combining New Orleans jazz and various Caribbean rhythm traditions).

 But Dubberly was after something a little different. Drawing on the low brass sound associated with Puerto Rican salsa bandleader Willie Rosario, who combined trombone with baritone saxophone, he took the notion further on "La Clave del Gumbo," adding Mike Rinta on tuba, a horn linked to traditional New Orleans jazz.

 "I always loved the bari and the bari/trombone sound," Dubberly says. "The low saxes and trombone is a sound nobody is doing. Having saxophones I can also have the players double on flutes, which gives a different color completely."

The fact that the Bay Area brims with strong salsa/Latin jazz ensembles provides certain challenges and advantages for bandleaders looking to distinguish themselves. While the music biz is notoriously competitive, the Bay Area has long fostered cooperation, a vibe exemplified by the presence of two bandleaders in Orquesta Dharma's ranks. Drummer Brian Andres leads the Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel, and pianist Christian Tumulan co-leads the Grammy Award-winning Pacific Mambo Orchestra.

Dubberly works more in bands of other musicians than his own, and on Saturday he's also performing with Venezuelan vocalist Omar Ledezma's Rumbaché before the Orquesta Dharma set and with timbales great Louie Romero's Mazacote.

"The more you play the music, playing a lot of different books and seeing what works, the more ideas you get," Dubberly says. "I really like arranging and writing, bringing my own compositions to life. Playing in lots of different bands helped me out when I went to start arranging my own ideas."

With the versatile vocalist Ramon Garcia, Orquesta Dharma could have played the salsa stage, but Dubberly landed the middle spot on the Latin jazz stage between Brazilian-inspired vocalist Masha Campagne & Voz Da Lapa and flutist John Calloway and the Latin Collective (salsa almost always features vocals, while Latin jazz tends more toward instrumentals). The reggae stage features two acts, Native Elements and Rafa Roots.

"The idea is to cover a lot of stylistic ground," says Latin jazz stage booker Matt Beasley, who helps arrange acts for many festivals around the region. "The energy at the salsa stage is amazing, with so many people dancing. People are usually dancing at the Latin jazz stage too, but it's a little more for listening."

Latin Jazz Net

The title of this fantastic and intoxicating album is a dead giveaway. La Clave del Gumbobestraddles the two not-so-disparate worlds of Cuba and New Orleans. In the album plots a sort of pentangular map of the rhythmic topography that was laid out at the bottom of North America and the northern tip of South America. Here the Caribbean met New Orleans; Congo begat Congo Square and Guantanamo and Camagüey, met Kingston, Jamaica, and met the Dominican and Puerto Rico. Clave reigned supreme and laid the indelible imprint upon the region. It made the subverted all other rhythms and created a music so compelling in its ideas, evanescent, weightless trills, suspended and overlapping harmonies and became the sheer dynamic power of the continent as to speak forcefully and eloquently for itself. Call it the rhythm of the second line, the mambo and rumba, and the guaguancó of the descarga, the dropped syllable of reggae and calypso, the bomba, the plena, the spirit of the African diaspora in the Americas. Or call it like it is: La Clave del Gumbo.

Jamie Dubberly and Orquesta Dharma have got it right from the very first mystic chord of the disc, after the batá drums and the Braulio Barrera chant to placate the excited Orishas or Vocatives… the countries of the ancestors of the slaves of Dahomey and the Congo. And there are few things more exhilarating than when the drummers, pianists and brass and woodwinds get the groove going than mambo+bomba+plena+gumbo con alma, con una ebbrezza fantastica all of which = the rhythmic gymnastics; that of this record. There is no molly-coddling musicians here; just red-hot unbridled energy; sunbursting quantum packets of energy in the inexorable growling of tuba and in the earth-shattering braying of the trombone and the roistering of all of the other instruments of this fantastic orchestra. It is called, I believe, “nailing it”, which is to say getting it from the first notes of the explosive first chord.

Why name any particular song when the entire album is an explosion of rhythm adorning inebriated melody and harmony? This is a disc that, end to end, a molten mix of the hottest volcanic music with the coolest near chaotic joy. Jamie Dubberly has also managed to seduce some of the biggest names in the business to join him in paying homage to his muse: African-Caribbean and African-American music results in a new kind of ode to joy. The malleability of rhythm and fiery spontaneity coalesce in a thoroughly personal style of playing. This results in music that captures all of the luminescence, impulsive power, fluidity and shimmering mystique of the saints of the music, who have in turn, inspired Orquesta Dharma. This is, quite simply, one of the most irresistible tributes to the music that begat it all.

Improvijazzation Nation

Jamie Dubberly & Orquesta Dharma – LA CLAVE DEL GUMBO:  Totally cool Latin-oriented trombone-led jazz from California… the splendid opener, “Jazzy“, establishes the lively tone for the rest of the nine-song extravaganza.  The 6:30 version of Marvin’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” is among the best I’ve heard (yet) in 2015 & the vocal is totally killer!  The groove on “West Side Strut” swings just as you might expect it to, & will have you up & dancin’ ’round th’ room in no time.  It’s (most) strongly recommended that you listen to this with headphones for the first sitting (unless you have a house where you can set your amp to FULL TILT – then listen to it that way).  The superb percussion on “Soul Provider” made it my personal favorite, as well as the “party spirit” the group projects.  I give Jamie & his (rather extensive) crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.98 for this one. 

Magnet Magazine

BEST OF 2014: WORLD MUSIC

 

MAGNET’s j. poet picks the best world-music releases of the year.

1 Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 A Long Way To The Beginning (Knitting Factory)
2 Toumani & Sidiki Toumani & Sidiki (World Circuit)
3 Jamie Dubberly & Orquesta Dharma La Clave Del Gumbo (Dubberly)
4 Zongo Junction No Discount (Electric Cowbell)
5 Anansy Cissé Mali Overdrive (Riverboat)
6 Lo’Jo 310 Lunes (World Village)
7 Boris Kova─Ź & La Campanella Eastern Moon Rising (Riverboat)
8 Da Cruz Disco E Progresso (Boom Jah)
9 Banda Magda Yerakina (Ground UP)
10 Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca La Rumba SoYo (Cumbancha)

NewGenSalsa magazine

"If you’re a Latin Jazz lover as I am “La Clave Del Gumbo” CD by Jamie Dubberly & Orquesta Dharma is a definite "must have". Just put this bad boy in your CD player, sit back and bring up the volume and let these cats take you on a musical journey. This CD starts off with the Willie Colon classic “Jazzy” which is sizzling hot. With a new arrangement and horns blazing throughout the track it’s difficult to stay planted on your seat. As my DJ friend Ray Cruz from Hawaii would say “it will definitely put a smile on your ears. Another favorite of mine is the classic by the late and great Pete El Conde Rodriguez which happens to be my featured track “La Esencia Del Guaguanco” with Willy Torres on vocals. This is a definite dance floor banger which I’ll be rocking at all the NYC clubs I spin at. I could go on and on talking about this musical GEM. Just do yourself a favor and pick up a copy asap. You won’t regret it."

All About Jazz

"Many performances come and go without fanfare for the musician(s), but a rare few are transformative, reshaping the artist's perspective and direction. California-based trombonist Jamie Dubberly had one such experience when his Latin jazz group shared a bill with a New Orleans-style brass band. Dubberly decided to bring both ensembles together to close the show, putting together an arrangement of his own "Soul Provider" that married the sounds of Cuba and NOLA. The concept for this album was born right then and there. 

La Clave Del Gumbo, the sophomore release from Jamie Dubberly and Orquesta Dharma, is a spicy stew that's flavored with mambo, salsa, cha cha cha, cumbia, funk, second line, and soul music. Dubberly expertly blends those ingredients in different proportions throughout. 

While the fusion of styles and cultures is plainly evident in most of these performances, the scales almost always tip noticeably to one side or the other. Crescent City sounds dominate on "West Side Strut" and "Soul Provider" while Latin ideals carry "La Esencia Del Guaguanco," "Mambo Pacific" and "Sonando." But it should be noted that none of those songs are purebred in nature. Sometimes a single instrumentation decision can indicate a marriage of sounds and styles, a la the addition of Mike Rinta's tuba on "La Esencia Del Guaguanco." Other times it takes the collective presence of a churning percussive underbelly working with and against swaggering horns to mark the separate-but-together philosophy of this music. 

Songs like "Jazzy" and "It Ain't My Fault" manage to strike the finest balance between worlds, but other offerings highlight distinct breaks between styles that provide plenty of thrills. The brief Latin detour in the middle of the Cannonball Adderley-meets-Dr. John-esque "I Don't Need Nobody Else" is a good example of how the element of surprise plays as a strength here. Dubberly need not worry about the dreaded sophomore slump. La Clave Del Gumbo, brimming with brassy allure, swaggering rhythms and exciting offshoots, completely avoids it."

The Midwest Record

La Clave del Gumbo/ Jamie Dubberly and Orquesta Dharma- "Hot and heavy NoCal Latin jazz that should get out of the neighborhood more often.  Even lead footed gringos can feel what’s going on here and join the party.  Fun stuff that is on a first name basis with caliente, this crew has the classic vibe flowing through their music and it’s a great sound for summer for the rest of the country---the part that knows they have to make the most of those 90 days.  Well done."