The Latin Vibe...
Khaeon Records continues its Latin vibe with the release of percussionist Christos Rafalides' Manhattan Vibes. Previous label releases in the Latin vein include John Benitez's (bassist on the present recording) Descarga in New York (KWM 200101), and Carlos Barbosa-Lima's Mambo No. 5 (KWM 200201, both fine recordings, the latter making my "best of:" list for 2001. Manhattan Vibes demonstrates the characteristics of Latin-influenced jazz where the spacing and accent on musical notes takes precedence over the notes themselves. Rafalides' is music of movement. Wholly percussion-oriented Manhattan Vibes throbs from one piece to the next. Rafalides accomplishes this from a variety of perspectives. On the opening "Flamingo" Mary Wormworth provides a Latin-"Creole Love Call" vocalese. Randy Brecker's muted horn slides right in to the groove of "Strut" (his open bell shines later on "C.R.@.S.H") as does Vinny Valentino's dirty electric guitar.
Christos Rafalides' mallets are warmly tropical on his originals and prove well suited for Ellington's "Caravan" and "All The Things You Are." He is able to emote the tenderness of ballads and the bumpiness of the upbeat, all in the same measure. Milt Jackson, Rafalides is not. Nor does he need or aspire to be. Christos Rafalides is forging a new direction for the vibraphone/marimba, one that ricochets off of the likes of Joe Locke, Bill Ware, Stefon Harris and Gary Burton. Rhythmically driven and spatially exact, Christos Rafalides' music reaches deep into the Latin consciousness and pulls out the perfect vibe.
Personnel: Christos Rafalides: Percussion; John Benitez: Bass; Steve Hass Drums; Randy Brecker: Trumpet; Vinny Valentino Guitar; Mary Wormworth: Vocals; Luisito Qunitero: percussion.