Papo Vazquez: Oasis (2012)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Trombonist/composer Papo Vazquez brings in his Mighty Pirates Troubadours for another musical adventure full of scintillating melodies, energetic rhythms and heady grooves all of which make for a wonderful album. Not content to stay within one genre, Vazquez blends and mixes them with the skill of a wizard. The styles slide into place easily and compactly, propelled by as accomplished a bunch of musicians as any band leader would love to have.
Vazquez not only has a fertile imagination as a composer, he is an exquisite trombonist, drenching his playing with verve, pathos and sublime feeling. He kicks it off in fine style on "Manga Larga" with the percussion dancing in and the horns evoking the heady melody. His tone is warm, as it gleans the essence and then goes on to flesh the music. Vazquez stamps his signature with deft moves that course through the veins of the tune, taking it out just a little bit with a smear. Willie Williams is a hardy tenor saxophonist, mellifluous even as he deepens the pulse, with effervescent pianist Rick Germanson adding strong thematic statements to make this a downright delight.
A 15-piece band takes the stage for "Oasis," which is described as "world music jazz." The description is apt, as Vazquez feeds stylistic motifs to capture a wide spectrum of sound and mood. Strings are plucked, cymbals wash over and into the brass lines, and the trombone raises its voice in cry and plea as the blues find a home. The tempo burns with a burnished charge, even as Akua Dixon's Quartet Indigo adds a seductive adjunct with strings.
"Igor's Mail" explores different parallels. Jazz finds a nest in the stabbing lines of the trombone before Quartet Indigo introduces a classical air. The dynamics have changed but the magnetic core is still a force. The whole coalesces into a harmonious whole driven by the dynamics of invention.
Papo Vazquez is a master craftsman ably abetted by musicians with big hearts.
Track Listing: Manga Larga; Sol Tropical; Danzaon Don Va'zquez; Que Sabes Tu; Psalm 59; City Of Brotherly Love; Oasis; Redemption; San Juan De La Maguana; Igor’s Mail; Verdura De Apio/The Real McCoy; Plena Drumline.
Personnel: Papo Vazquez: trombone, cora; Willie Williams: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet; Rick Germanson: piano; Dezron Douglas: bass; Alvester Garnett: drums; Anthony Carrillo: barriles de bomba (1, 4, 11), pandero de plena (2, 8, 12), darbuka/djembe (7), maraca/cua/coro (4, 11), bells/snare drum (12); Carlos Maldonado: congas/cajón peruano (1), tympani/chinese gong (7), surdo; Candido Reyes: guicharo (2, 3, 12); Akua Dixon’s Quartette Indigo (7, 8): Ina Paris: violin, Patrisa Tomassini: violin, Chala Yancy: viola, Akua Dixon: cello. Regina Carter: violin (7); Wynton Marsalis: trumpet (9, 11, 12).
Record Label: Picaro Records