"The rumba is on.
"Like the best Cuban percussionists and folkloric masters, and as with jazz’s greatest players, Díaz knows that tradition is never a static thing. As a member of the seminal Cuban rumba ensemble Yoruba Andabo, he continued the work of the legendary percussionist Pancho Quinto in creating new and fundamental wrinkles with traditional Cuban rumba.
"The Thursday night 'Midnight Rumbas' began in June [of 2013 ], as organized by Dita Sullivan, who has produced a fine and ongoing New Dimensions in Latin Jazz series, primarily at the Jazz Standard.
'I thought it would be a good summer event—the authentic Cuban rumba that most people, even those who visit Cuba, never get to see,” Sullivan wrote in a recent email. 'What Román is doing is bringing the rumba with all its heady, intense atmosphere; it's really like being at a rumba in the barrios Luyano or El Cerro in Havana—thrilling, full of surprises, and even a little bit scary. It's utterly fluid, constantly changing, with the percussionists swapping instruments, musicians coming in and others stepping down, vocalists changing to play percussion, the percussionists getting up to sing. Yet it is not chaotic; it's running on a different sense of time and logic, and if you just let go, you can tune into it.'
"The best story in New York jazz right now (and among the music’s longest-running tales) is the deepening and broadening of Afro-Latin influence and expression within jazz’s ranks. These connections are not only with Cuba—they also flow from and back to Puerto Rico, Panama, the Dominican Republic, South America, and beyond—but they owe especially to Cuba, and with an ever-finer integration of the various strands of tradition from regions within Cuba itself.
"Since his arrival in New York City from his native Cuba in 1999, Díaz has not only deepened the presence of Afro-Cuban traditions in and around New York, he has infused the city’s jazz scene with a rare blend of expertise, energy, wit, and humor drawn from both Afro-Cuban culture and his own imagination." - Larry Blumenfeld, BLOUIN ARTINFO