Leon Lee Dorsey: Freedom Jazz Dance

Leon Lee Dorsey once enjoyed the company of the celebrated [late] pianist Hilton Ruiz, playing in one of the last ensembles the incomparable pianist brought together. Now, on Freedom Jazz Dance he brings his virtuoso low bass throbbings and gets together with long-time rhythm partner and drummer Mike Clark, and he offers the hot seat to masterful pianist Manuel Valera – all of this to pay homage to Mr Ruiz, probably his most consequential bandleader.

Album cover - Leon Lee Dorsey: Freedom Jazz Dance
Album cover – Leon Lee Dorsey: Freedom Jazz Dance

The album features beautifully crafted arrangements of beguiling variety and sensuousness. The repertoire comprises three originals by the bassist, three standards including the opening song on the album, “Freedom Jazz Dance” by the inimitable Eddie Harris, “How Insensitive” by Tom Jobim and Joseph Kosma’s “Autumn Leaves”, which begins by evoking a pulsating guaguancó before flying into a swinging groove. Mr Dorsey’s chosen material also includes “New Arrival”, which Mr Ruiz made famous when he played it as part of Tito Puente’s ensemble in Fernando Trueba’s seminal Latin-Jazz documentary, Calle 54.

One of the album’s revelations is the fact that Mr Dorsey emerges as a savvy, sensitive composer with a keen ear, an innate sense of form and a generous dash of pure, elegant spirit. His work – especially on the beguiling “Baptism” is meticulously structured, combining tonal and non-tonal elements into a glorious fusion. Best of all is Mr Dorsey’s playing, highlighted how he sculpts the long-limbed harmonies on “Until the End of Time” and “Chillin’”

Pianist Manuel Valera‘s playing is inspired and – at times – even audacious. The two works by Mr Ruiz are played with intoxicating style and Mr Valera also invokes the spirit of the late pianist as he traverses both his iconic works in a seductively swaggering manner that is completely his [Mr Valera’s] own. The drummer, Mr Clark navigates the material with his own, inimitably long-limbed styling and makes for a perfect foil to Mr Dorsey’s deep and big-boned gravitas bends and shapes notes with remarkable ingenuity.

The compelling writing and exquisite performance throughout this session makes for an utterly memorable album.

Track list – 1: Freedom Jazz Dance; 2: Baptism; 3: Home Cookin’; 4: Until the End of Time; 5: Autumn Leaves; 6: How Insensitive; 7: New Arrival; 8: Chillin’

Personnel – Manuel Valera: piano; Leon Lee Dorsey: bass; Mike Clark: drums

Released – 2021
Label – JazzAvenue 1 Records
Runtime – 42:42

Raul Da Gama
Raul Da Gama
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.

More from author

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related posts

11,403FansLike
1,661FollowersFollow
656FollowersFollow
1,857FollowersFollow
5,658FollowersFollow
165SubscribersSubscribe

Featured Posts

Omar Sosa’s 88 Well-Tuned Drums: A Film by Soren Sorensen

Anyone approaching this film about the iconic Cuban composer and pianist Omar Sosa, by the award-winning filmmaker Soren Sorensen will be almost immediately struck...

Danilo Pérez featuring The Global Messengers: Crisálida

Danilo Pérez began forming his worldview - and aligning his music to it - ever since he came under the sphere of influence of...

The Feeling Messengers, Past and Present (Part II)

Miguelo Valdés & The New Messengers Of Feeling Miguel Valdés, or “Miguelo”, as he has since become known, was born in the province of La...

The Feeling Messengers, Past and Present (Part I)

Preamble Within the current renaissance of popular Cuban music, coupled with the seemingly eternal presence of its first cousin American Jazz, we are once again...

In Conversation with Carlos Cippelletti

Pianist, composer and arranger Carlos Cippelletti, is a promising young Spanish, Franco-Cuban artist from the last generation of Afro-Cuban jazz musicians born outside the...

Celebrating Jane Bunnett: Spirits of Havana’s 30th Anniversary

After dark they gather, the spirits of Havana. Is that a ghostly, but fatback-toned rapping down in the barrio where the great composer and...

Piazzolla Cien Años: Lord of the Tango@100

There is a now famous photograph of the great Ástor Piazzolla that is iconic for so many reasons. Chief among them is the manner...

Omara Portuondo, Multifaceted Gem of Cuban Music

My moon app announces that in 14 hours the Supermoon of May will be here. During a full moon I often get inspired to...

Ray Barretto · Barretto Power

Barretto Power: A Celebratory Reissue on its 50th Anniversary It was 1970 when Fania Records released Barretto Power, one of a series of seminal albums...

El Gran Fellové: Part 3- When my Parents…

When my parents bought their home in 1968, Sunset Beach was just another sleepy little beach town It spanned about one mile in length, sandwiched...

Join our mailing list

Participate in contests, giveaways and more