Panama-born and New York-based Santi Debriano steers away from simplicity. The bassist-composer, who emigrated to the United States from Panama at the age of four and later obtained an ethnomusicology graduate degree from Wesleyan University, has made a point to transpose Afro-Caribbean tradition onto his compositional work. His latest mark, Ashanti, finds West African language and ritual at its core. Alongside his Arkestra Bembé, Debriano harnessed the power of the Yoruba tribe’s bembé — a celebration involving food, drink, music and dance — and fabricated his own, pandemic-inspired jam session tradition of a similar intimacy. Countless weeks of bembés yielded Ashanti, the stalwart bassist’s eighth release as a leader and first via Jojo Records. As weeks went by during the pandemic, Debriano’s compositional imagination stretched in tandem with what would become his Arkestra BembéThis stellar cast finds Debriano as anchor on bass with Robby Ameen on drums, TK Blue on alto saxophone, Andrea Brachfeld on flute, Tommy Morimoto on tenor saxophone, Ray Scro on baritone saxophone, Emile Turner on trumpet, Adrian Alvárado on guitar and Mamiko Watanabe on piano.