Bobby Matos Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble – Mambo Jazz Dance

Music is one of the most magical of all the arts. It can, by its mere sound, excite the body to such an extent that it leaps up and dances—in most cases instinctively; with eyes closed it can suggest a palette of a myriad colours; and by its sheer mystical nature music can heal the body and the mind of many ailments.

Bobby Matos’ music does all of this and some more. It helps pay homage to the soul and the spirit. This is once again evident in the music of Mambo Jazz Dance. There is an inherent energy that converts musical notes here that drives the mind into a state of trance where it seems to become a kind of crucible into which the mambos and the boleros of Mr. Matos pour themselves, stirring the mind into an interminable dance. The exciting aspect of this musical unguent is that it is invisible and soon fills all parts of the body, awakening it and pushing it into an ebullient mambo, no less.

This record was made at live performances that took place in California (January, 2012) and in Los Angeles (August, 2012) and although the engineers of the recording have subdued the audience’s excitement and appreciative reactions to the music it still works as a live recording. It does, however, take away something from the recording. Audiences are, after all, not only a part of the performance but also a part of the composition. Still there is some applause at the end of each song to account for the authenticity of the live recording. If these engineers intended to focus on the sound of the instruments then this was certainly achieved. The bass of John B. Williams and the piano of Theo Saunders as well as of the horns and the percussion instruments was quite exceptionally captured. Indeed the intention of this holistic approach seems to have delivered good sound quality. It has also preserved the magic of the music that Bobby Matos excels in delivering every time he performs.

On this record, Mr. Matos has focused his attention primarily on the hypnotic rhythm of the Afro-Caribbean mambo and other polyrhythmic music from the countries of Latin America, including a mighty chart from the pen of the great Brazilian composer, Ary Barosso. In some respects this might seem like (barring the Barosso chart) a somewhat narrow spectrum of musical forms. But Mr. Matos makes a fine effort of it. The mesmerising rhythms might have lulled the listener into a state of torpor. However, this does not happen as a result of this record. There is the extraordinary pure sound of Dr. Bobby Rodriguez’s trumpet, especially when it colludes with the high and mighty violin of Dan Weinstein on “The New Woman”. “Bahia,” the superb Barosso composition is also given a mambo twist but it remains so danceable and again it is Mr. Weinstein’s sweet and emotional playing, this time on trombone, the trumpet’s wail and of course the rumbling of the congas of Robertito Melendez that carves out a beautiful pattern of harmonic textures while retaining the beauty of the melody. Pablo Calogero is a fine saxophonist, but his finest moments come when he blows a passionate solo on flute on “Recuerdos”.

Here is lot of other fine music on the sets. It is also worth mentioning that the bass plays an important part of the performance and is exceptionally recorded for the richness of its tone. It bears mention that Mr. Williams plays this instrument as if he were caressing a shapely body. The magnificent sound almost mimics the sensuous voice that responds to the warmth and depth of the caresses. Finally the percussion adds muscularity to the music that makes it sound undeniably fresh. This is led, of course by Bobby Matos on timbales. He has always had a fresh and melodic approach to his percussion instrument. This is a hard act to follow especially when coming up against Mr. Matos who is so full of soul and a spirit that is full of excitement and this is quite magical. It suggests that Mr. Matos stands quite apart from many of the other musicians on this instrument; and it also bodes well for all of the future music that he is likely to make.

Tracks: Mambo Chris; Anna; Mama Coolbeans; The New Woman; Bahia; Recuerdos; Huevos Rancheros; Oiganlo; Mas Bajo Part 2; Amanecer; No’ Me Diga’ Na’ Part 2.

Personnel: Bobby Matos: timbales, vocals, coro; Theo Saunders: piano; John B. Williams: bass; Pablo Calogero: tenor saxophone, flute; Dan Weinstein: trombone, violin; Robertito Melendez: congas, coro; Jud Matos: guiro, bell, percussion, coro (1 – 8); Dr. Bobby Rodriguez: trumpet (8); Harry Scorzo: violin; Gabriel Rosati: trumpet, trombone; Ismael Carlo: percussion, coro.

Bobby Matos on the Web: www.bobbymatosmusic.com

Label: Lifeforce Jazz Records

Release date: October 2012

Reviewed by: Raul da Gama