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Live Reviews

25th Ottawa International Jazz Festival - Day Ten, July 2, 2005

By Published: July 4, 2005
Henry Lee Brown, or "Pucho, may not be a Latino, but you'd never know it from his compelling amalgam of Latin rhythms that infused a stylistically diverse programme featuring everything from the funk of Herbie Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island to the slow burn of "It Was a Very Good Year, the hard swing of "Take the A Train, and even a down and dirty blues. The percussion-heavy performance, bolstered by Pucho on timbales, Tyrone Goran on drums, Santos Riviera on bongos, and percussion and Johnny Griggs on congas, was all about show. Pucho's a born frontman, and even though his singing on "It Was a Very Good Year was a little rough and not quite up to par, any deficiencies were more than compensated for by his ability to engage and communicate with the crowd.

Pucho's band is yet another example of how many fine players are out there working in the trenches—never receiving particular recognition, but consistently delivering the goods. Bassist Tehrin Cole was full of energy, yet never less than completely supportive; between him and Goran, the groove was constant and unbreakable, regardless of the stylistic context. Likewise, pianist John Spruill was an impeccable accompanist and a soloist capable of meeting every demand. The horn section, with saxophonist/flautist Edward Pazant, trumpeter Richard Lee Wendell, and trombonist Michael Grey, created a powerful and flexible front line.

Despite the music's scripting—even in the solo segments where, for example, Cole's bass solo had a clear form that would involve the rest of the group at various points—there remained a feeling of spontaneity throughout the show. And while Pucho and his Latin Soul Brothers aren't necessarily moving music forward, they've managed to create a distinctive combination of Latin and soul jazz, bringing in elements of hard bop, soul, and Afro-Cuban grooves. In a career that spans fifty years, Pucho has shown that good jazz can also be good entertainment.

Tomorrow is the festival's final day, featuring vibraphonist Matthias Lupri and a double bill with saxophonists David Sanchez and Joshua Redman.

Visit Adrian Cho, CBC Galaxie, and the Ottawa International Jazz Festival on the web.

Photo Credit
John Fowler

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