This disc commemorates the 25th Anniversary of Henry Brun & The Latin Playerz band. On evidence here and on past discs by this Latin-Jazz band, it’s been one long and memorable ride. Brun is a fine band leader and his Latin Playerz has responded superbly to his direction. He may not be as ‘famous’ as some of the bands on the West or the East Coasts, but sometimes the so-called ‘quiet’ ones make a lot of noise. The controlled explosions of the band on this disc are noteworthy.
In his liner notes, Henry Brun cites a number of masters as inspiration: Mongo Santamaria, Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Papo Lucca, Milton Cardona and José ‘Buyú’ Mangual. These men have inspired a legion of followers. Many of them have made noteworthy music of their own but Henry Brun has brought a certain sassy swing of his own to the music with his unique voice. Brun is a terrific percussion colourist who works with a very large palette of wondrous colours. His rhythmic virtuosity is epitomised by a genius for infusing his music with bluesy melodic inflection. While ‘Summertime’ is not the only example of this, it has been beautifully rendered in part because of the bittersweet vocals of Brun’s wife Judi Deleon. It also bears mention that the horns on this album are led by Rudy Estrada. ‘Vocal’ horns make for the strength of a Latin-Jazz band and the apocalyptic shout of the horns on this record are very much in evidence.
Two of the other gleaming gems on this recording are classics such as ‘Amanecer’ and ‘La Pelota’. Coming from celebrated pens, compositions such as these always put pressure on the performers to make a ‘new’ statement and the band does not disappoint on both tracks. The crowning glory, however, just may be Ray Martinez’s ‘Con mi Ritmo’. Brun’s star showing on this track is crisp and full of visceral excitement. His band follows his lead, of course, and it is the music here that takes us all to Latin Jazz ‘heaven’ as a result. Brun hopes that he and the Latin Playerz will enjoy another 25 years playing music. The fact that he has supported an ensemble like this for such tenure – and they have not only survived, but excelled – is evidence enough that he should not be concerned. The only direction this group has going is up.
Track List: Amanecer; Mayeya; Summertime; Sofrito; Con mi Ritmo; Caribbean Delight; Honky Tonk; Fuego en la Bahia; V; La Pelota.
Personnel: Henry Brun: leader, congas, bongo, timbale, clave, güiro, maracas, cowbells, vibra slap, miscellaneous percussion effects; Rudy Estrada: musical director, lead trumpet, flugelhorn; Gene Centeno: alto and tenor saxophones; Randy Zimmerman: trombone; Travis Davis: piano; Pete Ojeda: electric bass; Mike Koenning: drums, percussion; René Gonzalez: congas, percussion; Judi Deleón: lead vocals, background vocals, percussion.
Label: RER Recordings
Release date: September 2015
Running time: 44:26
Buy album on: amazon
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