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.
Why do I love jazz? Well, depending on what you mean by jazz, I can send an answer in any number of directions. Briefly, I was exposed to this crazy music as a little boy, my dad good friends with the local music store, where he bought sheet music to play from his baby grand
Why do I love jazz? Well, depending on what you mean by jazz, I can send an answer in any number of directions. Briefly, I was exposed to this crazy music as a little boy, my dad good friends with the local music store, where he bought sheet music to play from his baby grand. Their massive record collection, my parents taking me to concerts and clubs (only one of five kids to do so), the Magnavox furniture stereo/radio ... it all added up. It was complex, emotional music. And it had rhythm! I drummed and followed the music through the '60s even as I enjoyed the new musics of my generation.
Along with side-trips to other musicians and music, it's been one hell of a pony ride ever since.