André Mehmari & Gabriele Mirabassi – Miramari (Tratore – 2009)

Miramari is a musical whirlpool that bubbles with rhythmic ripples and swirls in a manner, at that describes some gentle disturbance that gathers in intensity at times. It is in this mysterious, liquified realm that pianist, André Mehmari and clarinetist, Gabriel Mirabassi concoct their sublime music mixing disparate metaphors, idiomatic phrases and images [...]

Nilson Matta’s Brazilian Voyage – Copacabana (Zoho Music)

How it is possible that Nilson Matta is allowed to fly so under the proverbial radar, with recognition mainly from his peers is one...

Arturo Stable Quintet – Call (Origen Records – 2009)

There are a few times—only just a few times—when musicians are able to find the intensity in a performance where the primordial cry is so distinct that communication with the Divine is so total, it may be experienced almost like an out-of-body one. Such is the intensity with which the artists have made the compositions of Arturo Stable come alive on Call [...]

An Evening with Eddie Palmieri and La Perfecta 2

La Perfecta 2 is the reincarnation of Conjunto La Perfecta, which came to be known as La Perfecta and whose over arching mission was “to destroy the dancer’s.” The band reigned supreme from 1961 to 1968 and was notorious for its trademark duo trombone sound and killer rhythm section. La Perfecta is one of the most influential and imitated bands in the history of Latin music [...]

Robby Ameen – Days in the Life (Two and Four Records – 2009)

Robby Ameen is one of those first call percussionists who has been chaffing at the bit to produce something all his own. Now he has his chance, with Days in the Life and he acquits himself with excellence. Things might have very well gone awry, as so often happens when self producing the first record. This, however, does not happen with Ameen, as he is careful to avoid the [...]

John Beasley – Positootly! (Resonance Records 2009)

John Beasley's Positootly! is awash with Lydian modes. That and it is clear that Beasley has listened carefully to Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. However, he is also a singular pianist who is chirpy and breaks up his dazzling melodic runs with staccato perfunctory harmonic statements that then bend the music in another surprising direction [...]

Coto Pincheira – The Sonido Moderno Project (Self Produced 2009)

Coto Pincheira, as he prefers being called, has made an enthusiastic impression with The Sonido Modern Project, literally, the Modern Sound Project. This virtuoso pianist, to whom clave comes naturally, has attempted to pour this rollicking backbeat into a cauldron set alight by the vast array of Afro-Caribbean metaphors and rhythms. The result is a molten mix [...]

Brian Lynch Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra: Bolero Nights (for Billie Holliday)

For a fleeting moment -just one fleeting moment- it appears to be a bit of a stretch putting "bolero" and Billie Holiday together...

Kalil Wilson – Easy to Love (Self Produced 2009)

It is somewhat disconcerting how few new male vocalists inhabiting the jazz idiom practice their craft with a degree of genius and virtuosity as saxophonists and other instrumentalists. It is a conundrum why not so many new artists play the first instrument--the human voice. Some posit that poeta nascitur non fit? Alternatively, is it true that vocal art is the one art that cannot really [...]

Henry Brun & The Latin Playerz – A Tribute to Duke Ellington

A musical meeting of minds with Duke Ellington must certainly be the "Holy Grail" of many a composer and arranger no matter what language and idiom the musical tribute or acknowledgement will be played in. However, every musician who attempts that feat must invariably fall through the mythical trapdoor, like in Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland." Duke is, after all, a composer and [...]

Mario Adnet & Phillippe Baden Powell – AfroSambaJazz

Truth is told: Had the great Billy Strayhorn been even mildly interested in courting recognition for his contribution to Duke Ellington's music, he would have occupied a much more rarified place in the pantheon of composers and arrangers - and even pianists - in the modern history of music. His reticence, even diffidence, was all encompasing. Mario Adnet could very possibly be [...]

Anna Estrada – Obsesión (Feral Flight Productions 2009)

When Elis Regina died, most Brasilians thought that the vacuum created by her loss could not be filled. Then along came Rosa Passos… and Anna Estrada. The two vocalists do not jostle for position in the vacant slot that Regina left behind. However, both fill it individually with the extraordinary breath and scope of their talent. Passos stays within the Brasilian ethos more often than not [...]

Kristina – Offshore Echoes (Patois Records 2009)

A female vocalist with a low vocal spectrum is not supposed to sound as joyful as Kristina does on Offshore Echoes. And she sounds joyful no matter what she sings. Many singers would sound solemn. However, Kristina, being the wonderful practitioner of the vocal arts that she is gives a fine account of herself. Not only is she a versatile vocalist [...]

Ithamara Koorax & Juarez Moreira – Bim Bom (Motema Music 2009)

João Gilberto did not just epitomize bossa nova, "The New Thing" that he virtually invented, but he also brought his new laconic vocalastic style to Brasilian music. So deeply passionate and idiosyncratic was his annunciation and intonation that he could wail and groan with equal lyricism. Pitch did not seem to matter as the mood and passion of the emotion often took [...]

Mark Levine & The Latin Tinge – Off & On: The Music of Moacir...

If ever a record could be likened to a comet streaking across the musical stratosphere and a long time coming at that, this one...

Sofia Tosello: Alma y Luna

There is a story that bears telling about Brasilian musician and multi-instrumentalist, Egberto Gismonti and his legendary teacher, Nadia Boulanger. Upon hearing him and evaluating his technique and his knowledge of harmonic devices, the story goes that Madame Boulanger said to Gismonti, “Go back and master the music of your country. This will unlock your voice and the world [...]
Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet - Bien Bien

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: Bien Bien!

The music with clave that began with Machito's "Tanga," and George Russell's "Cubana-Be Cubana-Bop" has come a long way. With clave in his soul, trombonist Wayne Wallace proves yet again on his record Bien Bien! that the cheer of the music is truly infectious. Wallace is rare among musicians who can "swing" as well as he can "clave." He has that and all kinds of shuffle [...]

Emir Ersoy – Cuban Portrait (SFW Records 2009)

It should not, but it takes a several fleeting moments to get used to the idea that Cuban Portrait is a record by an accomplished Turkish pianist and musician, Emir Ersoy, who is partnered by other Turkish musicians. It should not and happily, these feelings fade away completely after the last three songs are heard. For the record, though, here is a thought [...]

Tom Lellis & the Metropole Orch. – Skylark (Adventure Music 2009)

On Skylark, Tom Lellis celebrates the grand age of singers and song. This was probably not his intention at all, but fortunately, it also turned out that way. Lellis is a fine singer, fashioned from quite the classic mould of singers – like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Barry Manilow. He is a narrative singer and as some of the best storytellers go, he has a wonderful intonation [...]
Samuel Quinto Trio - Salsa N Jazz

Samuel Quinto Trio: Salsa’ N Jazz

There is something about this new Brasilian-born pianist, Samuel Quinto that strikes a vibrant chord in the inner ear. Perhaps it has to do with his wonderful grasp of the joy that abounds in the Brasilian northeast… his sense of “alegria.” Perhaps it also has to do with his mature approach, wonderful use of dynamics, his expression and his innate ability to allow the tonal center of his music [...]
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