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Paul Carlon's first recording as a leader of his own octet is a deceptive and intruiging portrait, as well as a highly listenable excursion into the world of the many shades of Latin jazz. Originally from upstate New York, Carlon graduated from Cornell University with a degree in English Literature in 1991 but was determined to make his mark in New York's musical world. Since then he has travelled all over the US and the Caribbean, working with a wide variety of bands and absorbing this experience into his feeling for the many variations of Caribbean and Latin musical forms.
Carlon's octet carries a lot of depth: it features rumbatap pioneer Max Pollak and singer Ileana Santamaria, daugher of the late Mongo Santamaria, as well as two trombones, trumpet, piano, bass and drums. Carlon, who is featured throughout on tenor sax, flute and mbira, also did the arrangements. He opens up "Rumbatapestry" with a very Eddie Harris-ish tenor statement that cooks. The Billy Strayhorn composition "Smada" begins life as a danzón, then shifts into a Columbian porro musical form. I had to look twice since I originally thought that another track had begun with Stenger's fine piano solo.
"Street Beat" brings the one guest appearance of Buddy Terry (former tenor saxophonist for the big bands of Ray Charles, Count Basie and Art Blakey). I guess that should be telling you that this guy knows how to turn on the heat and "street sound" aspect of this tune. Santamaria gets several vocal opportunities and on "The Spirit Calls" summons up Yoruban chants and Afro-Cuban rumba, echoing the Latin music of the 1950s and other traditional styles. "Extroadinary Rendition" is titled correctly, with all hands on deck. The two trombones and trumpet provide the heat, along with Pollak's rumbatap rhythm; the closing "Clave 66" is reminiscent of Habanero bands.
What really makes Other Tongues special is that each track sounds like it's from a different era and Latin variation. I'm sure that I have much more listening time ahead with this album.
Track Listing: Lucid Dreaming; Rumbatapestry; Smada; Steet Beat; A Certain Slant of Light; Boogie Down Broder; Extraodinary Renditions; The Spirit Calls; Portals; Clave 66.
Personnel: Paul Carlon: tenor saxophone, flute, mbira, compositions and arranging; Anton Denner: alto sax, flute; Dave Smith: trumpet; Ryan Keberlie: trombone; Mike Fahie: trombone; John Stenger: piano; Dave Ambrosio: bass; William "Beaver" Bausch: drums; Illeana Santamaria: vocals (2,3,8); Max Pollak: rumbatap (2, 7); Buddy Terry: tenor sax (3).