Ray Barretto: Homage to Art Blakey
For Homage to Art Blakey, Ray, a long time discophile, went through his Messenger collection to choose the date's repertoire. Half of the tunes he selected were composed by Wayne Shorter. "I hadn't planned it that way. It just so happened that the more I listened, the more I felt his music best fit, melodically and harmonically, with what we wanted to do." Much like Blakey, the leader made sure that the band members contributed to the date. Pianist Luis Perdomo penned imaginative arrangements of Shorter's "United, Sleeping Dancer Sleep On", and "Noise In the Attic", and the lyrical standard "Close Your Eyes". Barretto called upon former New World Spirit trumpeter Mike Mossman, who played many times with Blakey, to arrange the album's final Shorter piece, "Lester Left Town", as well as the traditional "Frere Jacques", Ray's tribute to the classic Messenger version of "Three Blind Mice".
Barretto asked the group's trumpeter John Bailey to compose a ballad for the date and was rewarded with the beautiful "Ballade for Buhaina". "It's my favorite piece on the record," the proud leader beams. The fiery Bailey is also featured on bassist Hans Glawisching's funky arrangement of Lee Morgan's "Buh's Bossa" along with alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon, the newest member of the band. The leader is particularly happy with the way the two horn players' sounds blend together throughout the date. Ray is eagerly anticipating performing the music from Homage to Art Blakey live at the Blue Note this month, on a double bill that will also feature the great Messenger saxophonist/composer Benny Golson. Also on the horizon is Ray Barretto's retrospective JVC concert at Carnegie Hall this June that will feature both the new group and a reunion of his salsa orquestra. An appropriate look back on the career of a giant who continues to look forward.