Various Artists: The Latin Jazz Side (2004)
The Italian jazz record label founded by one Sergio Veschi, Red Records , turned 25 years old this past year. For the better part of that time, the label has avoided doing what many larger labels have made a science of?flooding the market with compilations from recent releases. That is until now. The label has mined its beautifully heterogeneous catalog for the best in Latin jazz?and there is quite a bit of very fine music here.
When record imprints market compilation discs, their intentions are two-fold: one, these compilations can serve as samplers providing the listener a taste of what that label has to offer and two, compilations serve as a new revenue stream possessing little or no technical or artistic overhead. These sampler discs are risky affairs. On one hand they make perfect sense - they effectively market the catalog for a given label. Secondly, they look a lot like the popular series like Now that's What I Call Music mimicking, in turn, what Top 40 radio once resembled. On the other hand, they can be boring, poorly assembled, and a poor risk for one?s entertainment dollar.
Most gratefully, The Latin Jazz Side suffers from none of these shortcomings. Of note on this release is Salvatore Bonafede?s "Il Matrimonio," which bases itself on a simple Latin vamp and features the complete '60s and ?70s trumpet and tenor saxophone performance philosophy. Bobby Watson, on his most recent Red Records recording, Quiet as it's Kept , proved the Latin jones revealed on his earlier recordings ( The Next Step ) was the real thing.
Rhythmically unique and immediately identifiable, Latin jazz provides a potent vacation from the standard 4/4 for all jazz musicians, Latin or not. Luis Agudo is the only artist to have two selections on this recording. I quite liked Afrosamba Afrorera (from which "Afrosamba" was derived), though I found it at once acutely weird and wonderful. The same is true for Agudo?s "Menino" from In the Shadows. It is music like this that never ceases to surprise and delight.
Track Listing: Il Matrimonio - Salvatore Bonafede; Karim - Hector Bisignani; De Buenos Aires A Rio?Norberto Minichillo; Back Home Again With You - Bobby Watson; Retirada - Pablo Bobrowicky; Dark Powers - Ray Mantilla; Afrosamba - Luis Agudo; Samber - Chuck Zeuren; Voyage - Piero Bassini; Besame Mucho - Dave Liebman; Menino - Luis Agudo.