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Gregg August: Late August (2005)

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Gregg August: Late August How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

This is a pretty intruiging and ambitious debut for upstate New York bassist/composer Gregg August. August wanted to have all of his musical experiences reflected on this first date. From education at SUNY-Albany, the Eastman School of Music, and Julliard, he became the principal bassist in La Orquesta Cuitat de Barcelona, Spain, and then lived in Paris as a jazz musician. His growing interest in Cuban music, notably changui (a kind of Cuban folk music), led to positions with Ray Barretto and Ray Vega.

Late August consists of nine original compositions that equally show August's love of Cuban music and surging neo-bop. On the Latin portion of the album, the tunes and presentations are all winners. It begins with "Sweet Maladie," highlighted by Ray Barretto's congas and Wilson "Chembo" Corniel's shekere. The horn section of Donny McCaslin, Myron Walden, and John Bailey provides the added heat. The Cuban influence continues midway through the album with a spirited duet between August and Corniel, now on congas, after the bassist's opening solo on "Los Dos Cotos." Following that, "Melody in Black and Grey" includes the full ensemble, along with Corniel, whose infectious percussion raises this piece another notch.

The most interesting of the non-Cuban tracks is "Treatments in Darkness," which features a rich textural feeling, reflects a jazz tone poem quality, and may possibly be influenced by the writing of Gil Evans. On "Deception," Frank Wess makes an appearance on tenor and guitarist John Hart provides a tasty solo. The closer, "Work in Progress," taken at a relaxed mid-tempo pace, features an impressive tenor sax solo from the usually volitile McCaslin, who largely plays in the lower register.

Track Listing: Sweet Maladie; Four Two K; M's Blues; Treatments in Darkness; Los Dos Cotos; Melody In Black And Grey; Eulogy; Deceptions; Work In Progress.

Personnel: Gregg August: bass, composer; John Bailey: trumpet; Myron Walden: alto saxophone; Donny McCaslin: tenor saxophone; Frank Wess: tenor saxophone; Alon Yavnai: piano; John Hart: guitar; Eric McPherson or Quincy Davis: drums; Ray Barretto: congas; Wilson "Chembo" Corniel: congas, shekere.

Record Label: Iacuessa Records

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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