How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
When Latin jazz is on the menu, the electric guitar is not the first thing that comes to mind. That's where Greg Diamond steps in. Backed by a small, but versatile ensemble, he explores the genre on Dancando Com Ale.
Diamond is a bandleader and sideman on the New York jazz scene, with a master's degree in jazz performance from the Aaron Copeland School of Music at Queens College in Flushing, N.Y. In 2008, he competed with six other finalists in the International Jazz Guitar Competition hosted by the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Among those he has shared the stage with are Antonio Hart, Sonny Murray and Bill Goodman.
Diamond's deft fingering sets the tone early on "Paradigma." However, he soon gives way to other instrumentsmainly the tenor sax of Seamus Blake and the alto of Brian Hogans, supplemented by Arturo Stable on percussion. While the horns enjoy free-spirited solos, the guitar carries the rhythm, along with the bass and drums. Then, during a quiet passage, Diamond solos with a sound comparable to that of Stanley Jordan.
Bassist Edward Perez lays down a low groove to begin "Libertango," a cover of the Astor Piazzolla composition. Diamond plays the tango rhythm, while Hogans' alto sax carries the melody. Blake complements nicely before a bridging solo that sets up a second run of the melody. Drummer Ferenc Nemeth does some interesting things with the cymbals, which continues during Blake's extended solo. The cymbals, snare and tom virtuoso becomes even more engaging during the alto solo that precedes a third spin of the melody.
The percussion and piano heat up on the title song. The saxophones again carry most of the lead, but are joined by Diamond in a tutti. Emilio Solla's piano solo is among the highlights, of which there are several. Diamond delivers a Metheny-like solo, with notes that are clean and clear. The track ends with a flurry by all players.
Five of the ten tracks are Diamond originals, and the covers are done with such vigor, they're like his own songs. While Diamond is clearly the leader, he doesn't dominate, instead deferring to Blake and Hogans most of the leads, which makes Dancando Com Ale more of a group effort.
Track Listing: Pardigma; Naufrage; Libertango; Sofrito; Delicate Contents; Primavera; Dancando Com Ale;
Ninghe, Ninghe; All or Nothing.
Personnel: Greg Diamond: guitar; Seamus Blake: tenor saxophone (1-4, 6-10); Brian Hogans: alto and
soprano saxophones (1, 4, 5); Emilio Solla: piano (6, 8); Ferenc Nemeth: drums; Edward
Perez: bass; Arturo Stable: percussion; Vanessa Diamond: vocals (9).