Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: Bien Bien! (2009)
"Well, well" is one English translation for Bien Bein!, by the Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet. "Good, good" is another. Either is appropriate for this collection of nine songs.
Wallace, a trombonist, composer and arranger, has been named "Talent Deserving Wider Recognition" in the Down Beat Critics' Poll, and has shared the stage with a range of performers including Ray Charles, Celine Dion, Carlos Santana and John Lee Hooker. Pianist Murray Low, bassist David Belove, percussionist Michael Spiro and drummer Paul van Wageningen make up the rest of the quintet. All five sing, and the ensemble is joined at times by additional trombonists and vocalists.
The title song is straightforward Latin style with additional trombones blending for the melody. Low's piano solo reinforces the mood, that life is good, while Spiro and van Wageningen show their chops during a sequence that sets up Wallace's solo. Belove's bass line is vivid.
"Mojito Café," a tribute to Cal Tjader and Armando Peraza, is Wallace's reminiscent look at the 1970s North Beach jazz scene in San Francisco. Several styles of jazz could be heard in clubs on a regular basis, and this song is a freely expressive piece that would be right at home in one of those venues. Although Wallace is the lead performer, the song showcases the tight connection of Lowe, Spiro and van Wageningen, the drummer locking in on the cymbals during Low's solo. With an assist from Belove, the trio cranks it up a notch before Wallace rejoins. Toward the end, the vocalists engage in a call-and-response with the trombone.
Wallace composed three of the songs in this set. The covers include some variations of Latin jazz by Duke Ellington, Eddie Harris and Sonny Rollins. Original or interpretive, the band is solid throughout.
Track Listing: Bien Bien; Freedom Jazz Dance (Baile de Libertad); Mojito Caf
Personnel: Wayne Wallace: trombone, vocals; Murray Low: piano, vocals; Michael Spiro: percussion, vocals; David Belove: bass, vocals; Paul van Wageningen: trap drums, vocals; Julian Priester: trombone; Dave Martell: trombone; Kenny Washington, vocals; Orlando Torriente: vocals.