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UNT Latin Jazz Lab: Little “D” Town

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UNT Latin Jazz Lab - Little D Town

UNT Latin Jazz Lab - Little D TownThe music of Little “D” Town by the UNT Latin Jazz Lab is designed to explode on impact. So be prepared. There are just seven tracks and each is brilliantly written (composed and arranged) and performed by musicians who appear to know exactly what their role in this large ensemble is. Each musician is a virtuoso, but hangs his virtuosity at the door before he enters, for José Aponte to marshal them like a well-drilled infantry. Talent is dedicated to the music on the lead sheets, I’m sure. Nothing more, nothing less. And yet there is no stifled atmosphere. As a result the musicians celebrate a sort of release from academia and rock with real old-fashioned gusto.

The new rendition of Thelonious Monk’s “Bye-Ya” is refreshing. It retains the genius of its composer, which can never be lost no matter what turn the music might take. Monk is Monk, after all. Equally remarkable is the music that follows. Some of it is original work written by members of the ensemble. Interesting twists and turns ensue and this is noteworthy even as the arrangements adhere strictly to form and metre, and is redolent of history and tradition – of Latin structures – as well as the freedom born of Jazz. Notes gleam like rare and precious gems and when strung together by phrases they transform the melodies with dazzling brightness.

The musicians of the UNT Latin Jazz Lab are an eclectic group but I am sorry not to see a single lady in this rather testosterone-infused ensemble. It is probably not indicative of anything but the sorry state of affairs in the music industry at large. Certainly in Latin Jazz the glass ceiling is still quite low and there is every indication that this is true of other areas in the academia. But then if you look at large ensembles in Cuba (think of how little has been achieved despite Anacaona), Argentina and/or Venezuela (certainly the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar is a prime example) music organisations seem largely in denial about the talent in black communities, women and so on.

Still, this is not to detract from the music of the UNT Latin Jazz Lab. It is intelligently produced and full of intuitive soli. High marks to the musicians for their extraordinary performances and higher marks to José Aponte for bringing it all to fruition.

Track list – 1: Bye-Ya (Solos: Ted Davis, Tomàs Fosch, Cristian Román and Daniel Pardo); 2; The Place Holder (Solos: Kyle Bellaire and Connor Kent); 3: Little “D” Town by Carlos Rengifo (Solos: Keegan Riley, Derek Pyle, Mauricio Silva, and Ted Davis); 4: Part III: The Approach (Solos: Zach Steele and Ted Davis); 5: S.O.S. (con clave) {Solos: Cole Dapprich and Cristian Román}; 6: Flamingo (Solo: Ted Davis); 7: Master Aruba (Solos: Christian Ortíz and Jordan Carr)

Personnel – UNT Latin Jazz Lab Band Director: José Aponte; Ted Davis: lead alto, soprano saxophone and flute; Christian Ortíz: alto saxophone and flute; Kyle Bellaire: tenor saxophone; Trevor Lund: tenor saxophone; Cole Dapprich: baritone saxophone; Jordan Carr: lead trumpet; Cristian Román: trumpet; Keegan Riley: trumpet; Brian Fincher: trumpet; Rigo Vélez: trumpet; Zach Steele: lead trombone; Kennedy Powers: trombone; Marshall Tullous: trombone; Derek Pyle: trombone; Dillon Garrett: trombone; Mauricio Silva: electric guitar; Tomàs Fosch: piano; Lucas Reader: bass; Hiroki Kitazawa: timbales; Andrew Popham: bongo/campaña; Nicholas Rothouse: congas; Connor Kent: drum set

Recorded on June 22-23, 2015 at Crystal Clear Sound, Dallas, Texas
Released – 2017
Label – Independent (UNT College of Music)
Running time – 55:17

Based in Milton, Ontario, Canada, Raul is a poet, musician and an accomplished critic whose profound analysis is reinforced by his deep understanding of music, technically as well as historically.

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