Telepathic Afro-Caribbean improvisational trumpet-and-percussion duo Aquiles Navarro and Tcheser Holmes are longtime friends, collaborators, and tireless hustlers of New York City’s creative music scenes. Today, they announce their new album, Heritage of the Invisible II, out October 23rd on International Anthem, and present its lead single/video, “Pueblo.” “Pueblo” is “a celebration of life, the coming together of the people, el pueblo, a celebration of who we are, where we come from, it’s our pueblo, our people, a feeling of openness, hope, and a future of unity from el pueblo, the people,” says Navarro.
Heritage of the Invisible II follows Navarro and Holmes’s rise to prominence as members of the free jazz collective Irreversible Entanglements – with whom they released Who Sent You? in March. Though their planned campaigning around Who Sent You? was cut short by the Covid-19 fallout, the album reached high marks from Pitchfork, Paste, Stereogum, The New Yorker, and many more. In The Nation, writer Marcus J. Moore said “Irreversible Entanglements’ fearless music takes to task the police, American politics, capitalism, and racism.” The revolutionary ethos that drives Irreversible Entanglements is no less present in Navarro and Holmes’s duo work, although the duo finds them much more wholeheartedly and jubilantly embracing their Latin and Afro-Caribbean foundations.
Aquiles Navarro was born in Toronto during a time of great, political upheaval in his family’s native home of Panama. Dangers surrounding the reign of Manuel Noriega and the subsequent U.S. invasion of 1989 prompted the Navarro family’s exit, returning years later to Panama City in 1997. Latin folkloric music was fastened deeply to the family paradigm. After studying with Panamanian trumpeter Victor “Vitin” Paz (Fania All-Stars) and Panamanian-American composer/saxophonist Carlos Garnett (Miles Davis, Pharoah Sanders), Navarro moved to Boston to study at the New England Conservatory (NEC). Before the semester had even begun, a friendship had kindled between him and another incoming new student, Tcheser Holmes. Since a young age, Tcheser Holmes naturally wove into the fabric of a tight-knit Pan-African community in Brooklyn centered around the spiritual organization, Ausar Auset Society, and his family’s dance company, The Bennu Ausar Dancers. Encouraged his mother, who operates the cultural arts program at Kamit Preparatory Institute, and his uncle, a classically trained pianist from Panama, Holmes enrolled in the Manhattan School of Music’s Precollege for pre-conservatory training and eventually made his way toward NEC.
After their tenure at NEC both musicians relocated to New York, but first traveled together to Panama to perform and record a set of duo improvisations (which they digitally self-released in September 2014). Back in Brooklyn in Spring 2015, Navarro and Holmes performed as a duo at a Musicians Against Police Brutality event, where they shared the stage with the trio of Moor Mother, Keir Neuringer and Luke Stewart. The two groups made fast friends, and shortly after, came together to form the collective quintet Irreversible Entanglements.
In the Fall of 2019, Navarro and Holmes coalesced around the idea of composing new, expanded duo music and booked two after-hours sessions at Brooklyn’s S1 Studios. “Each tune has a compositional background to it, but improvisation and the telepathy between us remains the main catalyst,” notes Navarro. From this open map, the duo layered samples and electronic elements from Juno 106 and Moog Grandmother synths over their acoustic improvisations, overdubbed contributions from vocalist and instrumentalist friends, and added field recordings of themselves in conversation. To distill the mass of sounds, the duo contacted ada adhiyatma (aka Madam Data, a Philadelphia-based composer/electronicist who they’d met through a joint collaboration with Moor Mother) for a final mix. Additionally featured are Spanish poet Marcos de la Fuente, pianist Nick Sanders, Panamanian mejoranero Ricardo de León, and vocalist Brigitte Zozula. The resulting album – Heritage of the Invisible II – reveals Navarro and Holmes stepping firmly into the limelight of progressive music-making.
Navarro and Holmes never idle on Heritage of the Invisible II, choosing instead to ponder their origins in a devout charge of ecstatic cooperation. Meditating on the unseen constructive forces of culture, and rhythm as a cadence encoded in one’s heritage, with Heritage of the Invisible II they share a volume of their story in rich color – a brilliantly imagined testament to generations of memory, creation and existential joy.
Watch the Video for “Pueblo”
Pre-order Heritage of the Invisible II
Heritage of the Invisible II Tracklist
1. Initial Meditation
4. A Night in NY
5. M.O.N.K (Most Only Never Knew)
6. interlude ⇅ interludio
8. $$$ /// billete
10. remix by madam data