Jim Seeley/Arturo O'Farrill Quintet: The Jim Seeley/Arturo O'Farrill Quintet (2005)
This is a pleasant but unchallenging album by a quintet co-led by two mainstays of the Lincoln Center's Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra: pianist and composer Arturo O'Farrill (son of the great composer/arranger Chico O'Farrill) and trumpeter Jim Seeley.
The music is, as one would expect, mostly Latin-based or straight-ahead. But given the pedigrees and previous accomplishments of both leaders much more was expected. One comes away from listening to this album with the feeling that one has heard it all before.
"Stormy Night" is a particularly nice mid-tempo Latin number featuring Seeley's muted trumpet and the flute of Jed Levy, whose tenor sax solos are some of the highlights of the album. "Solita," a samba-inspired tune, also showcases the very fine bassist Andy Gonzalez to great advantage.
Most of the tunes on the album were composed by Seeley, who shows himself to be a competent composer. It would have been nice to hear some tunes composed by O'Farrill as well. I did like O'Farrill's electric piano work, which gives the album a certain retro quality that is especially in evidence in the funk-inspired "Forest Path."
At under fifty minutes in length, this album seems a little short by CD standards. The impression is left that the CD is more of a demo, showcasing the type of music that the group performs, rather than blazung any new territory. And the album is not the best engineered effort I have ever heard. The balance of the instruments seems way off at times.
Musically, there is really nothing to fault in this recording. But in a blindfold test, I think it would be very possible for auditors to assume that it was a Blue Note re-release from the late 1950s or early 1960s. There is too much of the Wynton Marsalis/Lincoln Center jazz-repertory-preserved-in-amber aesthetic in evidence. Seeley and O'Farrill are much too talented for that and the world of jazz deserves better.
Track Listing: Truth Juice; Solita; Starry Night; Little General; Forest Path; New Meaning; Cha-Cha Un-Uh; Child's Toy.
Personnel: Jim Seeley: trumpet; Arturo O'Farrill: electric and acoustic piano; Jed Levy: tenor saxophone, flute; Andy Gonzalez: acoustic bass; Phoenix Rivera: drums, percussion.