On Mamblue saxophonist Dr. Ed Calle has created not one, but two imperishable discs brim-full of magical charts meriting the simple designation: a musical masterpiece. Why should anyone really be surprised? The good doctor is not only a fine instrumentalist, but also an inventive composer and – something we are made aware of again – a superb big band arranger and conductor as well. What also comes through on this landmark double CD is a depth of emotional feeling that arrives as soon as he strikes up the band which incidentally brings together such mighty talent as Arturo Sandoval, Tany Gil, the Miami Saxophone Quartet, Brian Lynch, Sammy Figueroa, Federico Britos and of course Ed Calle’s own group, Mamblue.
To all intents and purposes, this is a large scale Big Band symphony in all but name and Ed Calle presides over the big band like a mighty conductor egging the stellar instrumentalists on with the brazen poser of his saxophone instead of the perfunctory baton. Sumptuously scored and powerfully evocative of the region between the Bronx, San Juan and Havana, the records are an intensely lyrical outpouring with long-breathed, modally inflected melodic lines which frequently hint at son, danzón and bolero as well as Afro-Latin Jazz full of pantheistic wonder and imbued with a very real sense of widescreen spectacle. And all of this music is also worthy of Ed Calle’s most illustrious musical mentors such as Tito Puente on, up and down the ancestral spectrum.
The admirable Ed Calle as well as his illustrious guests – from Arturo Sandoval to Brian Lynch – make imperious soloists and receive most able backing from this great orchestra. Their raptly expansive reading of the various scores adds more magic and mystique to the music. The music may sound somewhat pulpy at times, but there is also elegant puffery and the one thing you can never accuse the band of is loss of grip. The full-blooded sound too is more than acceptable throughout these elegant recordings spread across two really full discs, totalling over two hours of music.
True Arturo Sandoval and Brian Lynch together with the presence of Sammy Figueroa bring star power to this programme, but spare a kind thought for the genius of Federico Britos, who is becoming something of an ubiquitous figure from New York and Miami, as well as Boston to Los Angeles. Mr. Britos is a spectacular instrumentalist and his lighter, more mercurial style emphasises the music quite nicely. But make no mistake the music reaches the hottest part of the flame when Ed Calle breaks out into his intense soli. There is much to choose from here, but the most haunting piece on both discs – it is played twice – is the classic Rice and Beans. There is nothing with quite the energy and masterful twists and turns than this exquisite recording.
The CDs are differentiated on the basis of the fact that CD2 puts a dramatic Latin-Jazz twist on the music played straight on CD1. At any rate all of the music is played with deep passion but this is just one of the reasons why this album stands out from the clutter and rockets right up the list, to first place. As a whole Mamblue burns with the flame of inspiration and is quite theatrically-driven and bursting with visceral excitement from end to end.
Track List: CD1 – Mamblue; Arepa Bop; Calming Blue; Rice and Beans; Biscayne Bay; No! Thinking of You; Urban Island; Moonlight; San Sebastian; Mambo Wambo; Cortadio; Sidewinder; Autumn. CD2 – Arroz y Frioles; Arepo Bop (alternate version); Gruveando; Isla Urbana; Por de Lado; Otono; San Sebastian; Arroz y Frijoles (radio edit); Arroz y Frijoles (extended version).
Personnel: Ed Calle and Mamblue; Arturo Sandoval; Tany Gil, Mark Levine, Brian Lynch, Federico Britos; Nomar Negroni; the Miami symphonic Studio Orchestra and a cast of stellar musicians from across the Americas.
About Ed Calle
Calle plays the saxophones, flutes, clarinets, EWI, and keyboards, engineers projects, and performs vocals. He also composes and arranges music. Dr. Eduardo J. Calle has served as Chairperson of Arts & Philosophy at Miami Dade College North Campus and is currently Tenured Full Professor of Music Business and Production at Miami Dade College. Read more…