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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Wallace: Latin Jazz Jazz Latin

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Trombonist Wayne Wallace and his Latin Jazz Ensemble have a well-oiled record-making machine that seems incapable of turning out a subpar album.Therein lies the mystery. The ingredients that Wallace and his bandmates pour into the machine are eminently predictable--a studiously well-sampled array of Latin rhythms, didactically specified in the liner notes; a mixture of strong original compositions and Latin settings of jazz standards; tight ensemble playing by the quintet with plenty of space to breathe; a smattering of tasteful contributions by guest artists. The wonder is that this recipe, trotted out more or less annually, loses none of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: To Hear From There

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Trombonist/composer Wayne Wallace and his music could probably be characterized by any number of clichéd phrases, but why use a cliché when the truth will do. The truth is that Wayne Wallace's To Hear From There is a far better record than its Grammy-nominated predecessor, ¡Bien Bien! (Patois, 2009), and that's saying a lot. Wallace's greatest gift to the music on To Hear From There is that he approaches it respectfully. Wallace, an American man of African ancestry, performs Latin jazz as though it's his birthright. Not in the sense that he sounds as though he feels entitled to anything, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: To Hear From There

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Trombonist Wayne Wallace is one of the most melodic players on his instrument. And although he might inhabit a somewhat narrow range--eschewing the very high register--he is also one of today's most expressive trombonists. His husky tone is one of a kind and gives his playing tremendous character. Moreover, he is one of the few players who comfortable in virtually every idiom, and this is something unique as it enables him to extend his playing with subtle changes in rhythmic accents and phrasing. As someone who loves simply to dance around the melody of songs, he is able to create ...

IN THE ARTIST'S OWN WORDS

Wayne Wallace: The Thrill of the Grammys

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I have had the honor of performing on four Grammy-nominated recordings. Mister E, by Pete Escovedo, S.F. Bay, by the Machete Ensemble, Then Some, by Steve Berrios, and Far East Suite, by Anthony Brown and the Asian American Orchestra. This was my second time being a part of a Grammy presentation, but my first as the leader of a nominated project, let alone as a presenter for the Pre-Telecast Awards ceremony. I arrived at LAX on Saturday afternoon, checked in at the Biltmore hotel and immediately prepared to attend the nominees' reception. Beautiful starlit warm evening, first ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: To Hear From There

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Trombonist and composer Wayne Wallace knows how to have fun, and on the delightfully upbeat To Hear From There his Latin Jazz Quintet makes that fun leap out of the speakers. The group--Grammy-nominated for 2009's ¡Bien Bien! (Patois Records)--is energetic and exceptionally tight. Wallace leads this fine and funky band through a selection of tunes that combine Latin, African and West Coast styles to create a mix of tunes that swings and grooves from start to finish. Across the album the percussion playing of Paul van Wageningen and Michael Spiro is central to the music's sensuality. The ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Wallace: To Hear From There

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Wayne Wallace continues to explore the infectious Afro-Cuban rhythms on To Here From There, the follow-up to his 2010 Grammy-nominated album, Bien Bien! (Patois Record, 2009).Wallace is a trombonist with vast experience that includes collaborations with artists such as Count Basie, Joe Henderson, Lionel Hampton, Sonny Rollins and Tito Puente. Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet plays like they were born in Cuba.The danceable “La Escuela" with its piano montuno and the distinctive clave of the Cuban son is dedicated to La Escuela Nacional de las Artes en Cuba, where Wallace studied in the 1990s.Wallace shares ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Wallace: To Hear From There

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San Francisco-area trombonist Wayne Wallace is known for his Grammy-nominated forays into Afro-Cuban music, and on the surface, To Hear From There is another Latin jazz album. But mixed with the danceable, percussion-heavy rhythms and exuberant melodies, with a touch of melancholy, are complex, improvised solos that would delight even a jazz purist. The improvised give-and-take between pianist Murray Low and percussionist Michael Spiro, at the beginning of Tito Puente's classic “Philadelphia Mambo," is as angular and free-sounding as any advanced bop solo, while Wallace's growling, bottom-heavy yet quite melodic improvisations on most of the tracks--particularly his ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Wallace: ¡Bien Bien!

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Trombonist Wayne Wallace and his Latin Jazz Quintet have come together on ¡Bien Bien!, representing the gamut of Latin music, from Latin jazz to cha cha cha, cu-bop, bolero, and bamba. Surrounded by the talents percussionist Michael Spiro, bassist David Belove, pianist Murray Low, and drummer Paul van Wageningen, Wallace manages to make the trombone sound as though it were made just for this music. ¡Bien Bien! is a mix of Wallace's own original compositions (which include the disc's title track, “Mojito Café," and “Playa Negra") along with a few selections from such notables as Duke Ellington, Sonny ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: Bien Bien!

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With ¡Bien Bien!, as with previous releases, trombonist Wayne Wallace and his group display a very subtle kind of mastery. The elements of the combo's excellence are impressive enough. First, Wallace plays his instrument as beautifully as the trombone all-stars in Manny Oquendo's classic Conjunto Libre--or indeed the great Julian Priester, who sits in on a couple of numbers on ¡Bien Bien!. Second, the group deploys an irresistible laid-back groove, befitting their Bay Area roots; there is room to breathe here, in contrast to some Latin jazz derived from the breakneck New York salsa scene. (San Francisco's North Beach jazz ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: Bien Bien!

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The music with clave that began with Machito's “Tanga," and George Russell's “Cubana-Be Cubana-Bop" has come a long way. With clave in his soul, trombonist Wayne Wallace proves, yet again, on Bien Bien! that the cheer of the music is truly infectious. Wallace is rare among musicians who can swing as well as he can clave. With the addition of shuffle rhythms and backbeats bubbling under the skin, he creates glorious music even with just a few notes on his 'bone. On Bien Bien! Wallace has made several outstanding things happen: he employs two trombonists other than ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: Bien Bien!

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"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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: Infinity

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With The Nature of the Beat (Patois, 2008), trombone virtuoso Wayne Wallace established himself as the musician you'd most like to have living in the downstairs apartment. If you had to have musicians downstairs, that is. The reasons Wallace and his extraordinary band mates would be welcome are essentially twofold. First, their repertoire is flawlessly funky and erudite, based on excellent rhythm and blues and Afro-Cuban elements. Second, they are all extraordinary jazz players, starting with Wallace himself, who plays an arsenal of trombones with alternating lyricism and incisiveness worthy of trumpeter Clifford Brown; pianist Murray Low and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: Infinity

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Distinguished trombonist and composer Wayne Wallace presents another sparkling album of Latin jazz music hot on the heels of his previous critically acclaimed release The Nature of the Beat (Patois Records, 2008) with Infinity, his fourth production for the Patois label and his second of 2008. Known as “The Doctor" for his production skills, Wallace produces another exciting album of Afro-Cuban Latin jazz music, which now has become his specialty and trademark. For this offering, Wallace brings together four original compositions and provides Latin-tinged arrangements to standards from George and Ira Gershwin, Eubie Blake, and Freddie Hubbard to name a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Wallace: The Nature of the Beat

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Among the highlights of Kat Parra's fine recent Azúcar de Amor (Patois, 2008) is the trombone and arrangements of Wayne Wallace. It is therefore gratifying to have this new record led by the San Franciscan. But while Parra's record comes across as a superbly executed homage to Latin music, Wallace's sounds like an idiosyncratically funky variant of the thing itself. Wallace's repertoire on The Nature of the Beat stakes out some unconventional territory and considerable breadth, but more than a few listeners will feel quite at home here, with familiar musical references to Ray Charles, the Miles ...



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