Afro-Cuban music and more...
What they say about the OCHO PIES
- Olympia Power and Light - May 19th, 2010
"It's an impressive collection of Latin and Jazz music, featuring their trademark airy touch. This music is perfect for lazy summer afternoon hammock swinging."
- The Sitting Duck, 7/8/04
"This is a quartet outtake of the big 10 piece Latin band "Obrador" that has been performing for decades. The quartet format allows infectious Latin moods as in the building driving opener "Son De La Loma" or the casual floating breezy "No Regrets", a superb tune by vocalist/accordion player Connie Bunyer and guitarist Paul Hjelm. Other band members add bass, guitar and a touch of vibes by Steve Luceno and the always diverse strength of percussionist Michael Olson. This smaller format allows some subtler explorations like the guitar riffs on "La Macura". Ocho Pies has played Silverton Arts Festival, Tacoma Ethnic Festival, Harbordays, Arts Walk and the Chehalis and Longview Summer festivals. They have photos, promotional material and bring great joy and movement to any event. I love the vocal snaking and percussion motif in "Chan Chan". Your audiences will be delighted with this thoroughly professional group that takes roots music seriously in great joy. They have been to Cuba and studied the roots. They are the real thing".
- Festivals Directory 2004
"...They pull you bodily into that bemused state of heightened sensuality."
"...When the melodies play off these complex layered poly-rhythms, we begin to understand our world in a more complex way."
- NW Jazz Profile, Feb. '05
Ocho Pies: Tropical Footprint PB50165-2 CD
Pony Boy Records http://www.ponyboyrecords.com/
Over forty years ago at the Court C Tacoma jazz nights, one of the young bands striving to make their mark along with Jorgan's Organ, Glass, Audie Bridges, Ray Downey, and others, was Obrador with Michael Olson, Paul Hjelm and others. The Ocho Pies (eight Feet) quartet has both these veterans on vocal choruses, Michael Olson on congas, bongos and percussion, Paul Hjelm on guitar and percussion, and alter compatriot that we also heard, Steve Luceno here on 6- and 12-string guitar and percussion, plus Connie Bunyer on accordion, vocals and percussion. And did I say there is lots of percussion here? Olson and other Olympia area musicians have been a driving force to keep the cross-culture of Caribbean, Mexican, South and Central American, and African music alive in a wonderful mix. They sing in Spanish, Portuguese, French Creole, African Language and even English. Olsen and other musicians in the past have collected instruments and taken them into Cuba. They have immersed themselves in the music and the cultures from which they draw their music. A few times each year, they play at the Farmer's Market in Olympia, plus a host of clubs in the Olympia area and many Festivals in the Northwest. The nine tunes here represent both traditional music with a ritual or folk-based element, dance pieces (get ready to mambo, rumba, bomba, samba, cha-cha), and some of their original compositions. The driving upbeat "Petro" is a Haitian traditional song with fine low-end release from the lead vocal. Like always, they are changing the percussive instruments that bring ever-changing textures to the basic rhythm. "El Bodeguerro" just lightly leaps off the floor with guitar pulse, and then the Bunyer vocal is a joyful expression with backup chorus for the "Cha, Cha, Cha." Vocal and percussion echo and talk back and forth. Bunyer bites down, then floats. Great mood. "K-Dance" is an original by Paul Hjelm, a nine-minute excursion with a lovely guitar opening. Slowly, the Spanish tinge works with the bass in a slow, swirling, rhythmic mood. The guitar will remind you of some of Lendzian's quiet Spanish moods. Elegance floats as the rhythmic underpinning grows, then releases to the next musical picture. Toward the end, you get a true Spanish Classical interval before releasing back to the theme. Olsen's congas are perfectly balanced to give pulse and not overreach the composite sound. Gorgeous music. "Palo" is a Cuban traditional piece with Bunyer and band chorus cutting up and dancing about. Like the bridgework and voicing. The ever cascading and dancing "Almendra" is just joyous fun with accordion in both percussive and lead mode. Kind of France meets Portugal. The hesitating, holds, and instrumental changes make this work and glue your attention to the sound and rhythm. A favorite of mine. "Siembre su Maiz" squeezes the vocals out over wood percussive pulses and then builds into a sort of Mexican like sound, as Bunyer handles the lead. There are some guitar parts that are bit like some Bahama Blind Blake motif. Latin moody guitar opens and guides the soft sultry work of Bunyer on "Viva la Vida," one of her songs. The band floats lovingly through this, showing hints of jazz. "Ebioso" is one of those highly percussive tunes with Bunyer calling out and the band calling back. This song is something like you would hear in a drum circle out across the Folklife Festival grounds. The song builds complexity in the vocal, and chorus call back, as the counter-rhythms gain complexity. You are caught in the swirl of the growing pulse. The guitar moves in angular, almost discord, and then releases to complex vocal finish. "La Cahita" closes this in a joyful, swirling, kind of cutesy vocal lead style, and a snappy rhythm. Guitar delivers the Spanish/French tinge that could be done by Pearl Django, for instance. Joyful completion to a very satisfying rhythmic trip. Well balanced, clean recording out of Pony Boy Records in Seattle. Like the band says in the liner notes, this rubs off on me, as I type in exactly aligned computer time.
Chris Lunn, Ancient Victorys, May 2011