The music on There Will Never Be Another You by the Calle Loíza Jazz Project begins with the thunderous report of the barriles – subidor (primo) and buleador (segundo) – announcing a breathtaking version of the British pianist and vibraphone player Victor Feldman’s “Seven Steps to Heaven” (often also dubiously attributed to Miles Davis, who was actually a co-author. Mr Davis also appropriated “Donna Lee, which was, incidentally, written by Charlie Parker, who almost never gets credit for that chart, nevertheless…). This version of “Seven Steps to Heaven” is a superb version; a “souped-up”, Latinised version from Miles Davis’ 1963 recording Seven Steps to Heaven full of vim and verve and visceral energy that characterises this elegantly-crafted recording.
Miles Davis-inspired music features again with “Someday My Prince Will Come” written (and correctly credited this time to) Frank Churchill (music) and Larry Morey (lyrics) for Walt Disney’s 1937 animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Both trumpeters, Melvin Jones and Gordon Vernick are outstanding as they trade soli on this chart. It is a monumental arrangement, elegantly played by a band that shows burns through the music like a perfectly greased machine. Tony Batista’s bass solo breaks up the tune and his virtuosity shines right through it. At this point you might be inclined to think that this is a tribute to Mr Davis, but it isn’t; rather the music is played in homage to a friend and band mate who isn’t named.
The repertoire also features Latin versions of other Jazz classics, such as Oliver Nelson’s “Stolen Moments”, Herbie Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance” and Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way”. These songs together with Thelonious Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” hark back to the 1950’s and 1960’s which might well be the greatest period in Jazz songwriting after Bebop – the most iconic and – it would appear – also the most enduring creation in American music. By choosing this repertoire the members of the Calle Loíza Jazz Project also doff their proverbial hats to that historical fact. More importantly the arrangers draw the inevitable line between the Jazz and the Afro-Caribbean music traditions. Moreover with this ever so elegant performance the musicians draw attention to the wellspring of musical talent that flourishes on the island of Puerto Rico.
In regard to the arrangement of Mr Brubeck’s song, the music melds together the dancing rhythms of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora and the Brasilian one in one molten mix. It features the wondrous gifts of percussionist, Reniel López, who plays a battery of percussion from the South American country. HIS handling of the cuica is particularly excellent. Mr López shares the floor with the group’s percussionist Iván Belvis who has also done a masterful job of engineering this recording with detail and extraordinary warmth; no mean achievement for anyone dealing with such an array of (“acoustic”) musical instruments. The music of Mr Monk’s song (the celebratory processional at the end features some vibrant drumming and percussion virtuosity) and “There Will Never Be Another You” are quite superbly performed and Mark Monts de Oca excels on both. In the grand scheme of things these two songs seem to be perfect ways to bring this wonderful album to a close.
In terms of musical arrangements and in performance this is an album of music that many would give an arm and a leg to be a part of.
Track List – 01: Seven Steps to Heaven; 02: Some Day My Prince Will Come; 03: Stolen Moments; 04: Dolphin Dance; 05: Old Folks; 06: In Your Own Sweet Way; 07: Well You Needn’t; 08: There Will Never Be Another You
Personnel – Jimmy Rivera: drums; Tony Batista: bass; Mark Monts de Oca: piano; André Avelino: guitar (1-4, 6-8); Javier Oquendo: congas (1-4, 6-8); Melvin Jones: trumpet (1 – 4, 6, 7, 8 – first solo on 1, 7; second solo on 8); Gordon Vernick: trumpet (2, 5, 7, 8 – second solo on 2, 7; and 1st solo on 8); Xavier Barreto: flute (1, 3, 4, 8); Cándido Reyes: güiro (1-3, 7, 8); Reniel López: Brasilian percussion (6); Iván Belvis: percussion and engineering
Released – 2019
Label – Independent
Runtime – 59:03
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