Paquito D'Rivera with the WDR Big Band: Big Band Time (2003)
As much as I love the intimacy of trios, there's nothing like a big bandespecially one with Latin rhythms, great charts and masterful soloists. Big Band Time has all of these, together with ample proof that D'Rivera is a fine writer as well as player (six of the ten tunes are his). The German WDR Big Band is tight, the arrangements are crisp, and the CD crackles with energy from that first flugelhorn blast from Claudio Roditi.
As usual, Roditi's approach is tasteful and superb; he also wrote the closer, the gleeful "Annette's For Sure." Pianist Frank Chastenier plays soulfully on "To Brenda with Love," "Como Un Bolero," and "Song for Maura," a sensuous ballad where the leader is particularly tender. D'Rivera sounds fluid, expressive and good-natured throughout, weaving in his sly quotes now and then, and his horn arrangement on his "A Lo Tristano" really swings. Guitarist Paul Shigihara's fine work on "Danza Caracteristica" recalls Al DiMeolain fact, the way this intriguing tune moves and builds reminds me of DiMeola's brilliant The Grande Passion (Telarc, 2000).
Here, the ten generous tracks include elements of Bach, bop, Cuba, and Brazil (check out arranger Jay Ashby's Carnival parade at the end of "Who's Smokin'?"). The liners' credit glitches may annoy some purists, but they won't detract from most listeners' enjoyment, which is likely to be considerable. Big Band Time is full of fire and moonlight. Highly recommended.
Track Listing: To Brenda With Love, Danza Caracteristica, Song for Maura, Basstronaut, Who's Smokin'?, Y La Negra Bailaba, Andalucia, A Lo Tristano, Como Un Bolero, Annette's For Sure.
Personnel: Paquito D'Rivera: clarinet, saxophone;John Goldsby: bass; Claudio Roditi: trumpet, flugelhorn; Koji Paul Shigihara: guitar; Oscar Stagnaro: bass; Mark Walker: drums; Olivier Peters: saxophone; Heiner Wiberny: saxophone; Pernell Saturnino: percussion; Ludwig Nuss: trombone.