Arturo O'Farrill and Friends: Wonderful Discovery (2007)
Even though Dr. Eugene Marlow has an impressive résumé as a composer/arranger and educator, many jazz fans are likely to have never heard of him at all though he has written numerous jazz and classical pieces for solo instruments, chamber ensembles and big bands, while also participating in the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop since 1998. Wonderful Discovery provides an excellent introduction to his compositions. This session features a large Latin jazz ensemble, well-led by pianist Arturo O'Farrill, with a strong group of musicians who bring Marlow's conceptions to life.
Aside from a deliciously funky Latin setting of George Gershwin's "Summertime," the pianist's lovely improvised solo "Arturo's Reverie" and percussionist Bobby Sanabria's engaging impromptu percussion miniature "Raices (Roots)," all of the tracks are originals with plenty of variety. "Mr. O's Groove" is a lively Afro-Cuban opener, while "Song For an Old Soul" is a melancholy feature for soprano saxophonist Hayes Greenfield and O'Farrill. Alto saxophonist Bobby Porcelli (whose long list of credits includes sessions with Mongo Santamaria and Tito Puente) shines in the sensuous "Go Like the Wind," adding a boisterous solo over its infectious rhythm and solid reed section; his other feature is the dreamy "A Smile For Everyone," where he sounds a bit like Phil Woods. The lively blues "Take-A-Break" opens with superb interplay, and then the spotlight turns to potent individual choruses by trumpeter Jim Seeley, trombonist Luis Bonilla, soprano saxophonist Mario Rivera and finally, the leader. A Wonderful Discovery, indeed!
Track Listing: Mr. O's Groove; Song for an Old Soul; Summertime; Arturo's Reverie; Flight; Go Like The Wind; Down the Road; Raices (Roots); A Smile for Everyone; Take-A-Break; Old Havana; Wonderful Discovery.
Personnel: Arturo O'Farrill: piano; Jim Seeley: trumpet; Michael Philip Mossman: trumpet, flugelhorn; Mario Rivera: soprano saxophone, flute; Bobby Porcelli: alto saxophone; Hayes Greenfield: alto and soprano saxophones; Luis Bonilla: trombone; Ruben Rodriguez: bass; Phoenix Rivera: drums; Bobby Sanabria: percussion, vocal; Roland Guerrero: percussion; Cristian Rivera: percussion; Rory Stuart: guitar; Amy Cervini: vocal; Kathryn Strohmaier: vocal.