Sãlongo is a combo with a three horn front line that is dedicated to playing Brazilian and Afro-Cuban music and whose name translates loosely from a Zairian expression, "we come together to create something beautiful out of love." Although the front line players are not natives of either of these parts of the world, the rhythm section does indeed come from both Central and South America.
Sãlongo is the creation of trumpeter, composer, and arranger, Eddie Allen who also goes under the aliases of "E.J. Allen" as well as "E.J. Eddie Allen." But all three are the same individual who hails from Milwaukee, playing in a diverse setting of large and small jazz bands, Broadway musical orchestras and has worked with such artists as Art Blakey, Randy Weston, Vanessa Rubin and Muhal Richard Abrams. Allen's three previous albums on Enja Records have shown him to be a solid player and leader.
The opening tune, "Brasilian Sunset," is a celebration of jazz samba that is led by Allen as well as altoist Bruce Williams and Teodross Avery on tenor sax. "Being Here with You" represents a change of direction with the influence of Caribbean salsa leaving its imprint. The ensemble's goal is to provide the driving rhythmic concepts of the great conguero, Mongo Santamaria, as well as utilizing the commercial appeal of Santana. On "Search for Truth," the pace is initiated by Renato Thoms on congas and Mario Rodriguez on electric bass. Pianist Hector Martingnon is fully salsa-friendly from his many years at the piano chair in the ensembles of the late Ray Barretto. After an exciting intro, the horns enter with Avery's tenor solo making the most notable appearance.
Eddie Allen has written most of these compositions and they are attractive vehicles for this group. His clarity and tone are somewhat reminiscent of trumpeter Blue Mitchell. With that thought in mind, the closing "Just So You Know" has a Caribbean Carnaval atmosphere in the same spirit as several of Mitchell's mid-60's Blue Note dates. Only Charlie Parker's "My Little Suede Shoes" is a non-Allen tune.
Nice start, Sãlongo!
Personnel: Eddie Allen: trumpet, electric trumpet, flugelhorn, handclaps, vocals; Bruce Williams: alto sax, flute, handclaps; Teodross Avery: tenor sax; Hector Martignon: piano; Mario Rodriguez: electric bass; Diego Lopez: drums; Renato Thoms: congas, percussion; Uli Geissendoerfer: keyboards, handclaps.