How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Jimmy Haslip's second solo release showcases the extraordinary bassist in a heavily Latin setting; a departure from what we usually hear from him within the context of the Yellowjackets or his various sideman appearances. The CD is dedicated to his father, James J.F. Haslip, and his Puerto Rican heritage. Haslip's primary collaborator throughout the program is Joe Vannelli, best known as the keyboardist and mainstay for his brother, Gino. Vannelli and Haslip co-composed seven of the ten tunes, co-produced the CD, and provided the bulk of the programming. Yes, the music on the CD is largely synthesized, including some of the percussion and bass lines, freeing Haslip to concentrate on melodic and improvizational concerns. But the tracks are skillfully done and very life-like, avoiding the monotony of mindless repetitive loops.
The CD blasts out of the starting gate with "Los Feliz," full of percussive energy, with Haslip claiming ownership of the entire fretboard throughout his lead lines and solos. Chuck Findley (trumpets and trombones) and Steve Tavaglione (saxophones) lay down darting horn riffs in the background on this and several other tunes. Other highlights include the pensive balladry of "Laguna," in which Haslip expressively states the melody in the upper range; "Vaya," with it's tribal chorus and percussion; and the salsa-fied reading of Steve Khan's "Novelas." The CD is full of varying styles and textures, thanks not only to the synth programming, but also to the variety of instruments used, such as Justo Almario's flute, Judd Miller's EVI, and the percussion arsenal of Luis Conte, Michael Shapiro, and others. While Latin genres provide the primany influence on this CD, there's smatterings of Haslip's more customary jazz-funk, too. His chops displays are always impressive, but never overbearing. This is a well-rounded, consistently interesting release. (Unitone 4802)
Tracks: Los Feliz; Calle Del Sol; The Heat; The Red Sun; Laguna; Vaya; Novelas; She Never Has a Window; Fuego; El Morro. (53:55)
Personnel: Jimmy Haslip--electric and acoustic bass guitar, synth bass, keyboards, programming, background vocals; Joe Vannelli--keyboards, synth bass, programming; Otmaro Ruiz--piano; Russell Ferrante, Vince Mendoza--keyboards; Steve Tavaglione--saxophones; Chuck Findley--trumpet and trombone; Justo Almario--flute; Judd Miller--EVI; Luis Conte, Mike Shapiro, Mark Craney, Casey Scheuerell, Ernesto Diaz, Paul Gonzalas, Bertrand Lehman,--percussion; Ross Vannelli, Gino Vannelli--background vocals.