The VW Brothers: Sidemen Step Out Front

The Van Wageningen brothers i i

Marc (left) and Paul van However-You-Pronounce-It. David Belove hide caption

itoggle caption David Belove
The Van Wageningen brothers

Marc (left) and Paul van However-You-Pronounce-It.

David Belove

One part of being a Latin jazz radio host in Fresno, Calif. always made me pause. I often played cuts that included the bass/drums duo of brothers Marc and Paul van Wageningen. And I butchered their surname on air every time.

The transplanted Dutch musicians were on a lot of albums after they arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1980s. They became part of a hot house of Afro-Cuban jazz that reaches across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco into Oakland, Berkeley and beyond. They played and toured with Latin jazz legend Pete Escovedo, percussion master and educator John Santos and pianist/author Rebeca Mauleon, to name just three.

The brothers have released their first album under their own names, and they don't put you through what I went through: they call themselves the VW Brothers. Muziek mixes acoustic and electric elements, and collects the styles they've performed over the years — including a strong Afro-Cuban influence. All but two of the cuts were written by Marc.

The track streaming here, "El Abogado" (featuring percussionist Michael Spiro) is another example of the rich motherlode of expression that Afro-Cuban musicians find in traditional santeria rhythms.

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"El Abogado," from VW Brothers, Muziek (Patois Records). Paul van Wageningen, drums; Marc van Wageningen, bass; David K. Mathews, keyboards; Michael Spiro, percussion/vocal introduction; Edgardo Cambon, vocals; Orlando Torriente, vocals; Sheila E., vocals; Lynn Mabry, vocals; Joe Cohen, saxophone; Wayne Wallace, trombone; Melecio Magdaluyo, saxophone; Louis Fasman, trumpet. Berkeley, Calif.: Released Mar. 9, 2010.

Purchase: Amazon.com Pre-Order

Being an in-demand sideman means helping others achieve their vision. With Muziek, the VW brothers finally get to show off Marc's writing chops, along with their considerable musical skills.

And by the way, it's pronounced "vah-GA-ning-un."

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