How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
This album is a bit of a time capsule artifact dating back to approximately 1960 when small combo jazz with Afro-Cuban influences was all the rage. The mood is celebratory and cohesive as it was when jazz was regarded as the "thinking man's" music. The assembled players seem to fit the bill. Randy Brecker, playing entirely with muted trumpet, gives a pretty good impression of Dizzy or Miles. Bob Mintzer provides a "bottom" for the horns and is just slightly off-center on bass clarinet. Pianist David Chesky supplies the comping and solos needed. Latin percussionist Giovanni Hidalgo adds the ongoing ritmo caliente, working closely with Andy Gonzalez, a primarily Latin jazz bassist.
These eight tracks are a mood piece all composed and conceived by David Chesky, offering only minor differences in melody and tempo. The title The Body Acoustic is taken from a mid-career Weather Report and has the following mind-boggling quote on the jewel box:
...The Body Acoustic is an organic polyrhymic entity: A chorus of disparate voices chanting in a contrapuntal round robin: A form of rhythmic call and response that celebrates the body acoustic as a dance, a multi-tiered amalgamation of grooves...
Let's assume that you need something a little more immediate to have you running down to your favorite music store. For one thing, there is the music which is pretty satisfying. There is the collaboration of first-rate musicians. Brecker, has a long and valued history as solo artist and first-call session player. Mintzer, having worn several different hats over the past few decades as bandleader, smooth jazz star and session man, shines as a bass clarinetist. His musical conversations with Brecker on "N.Y. Cool" is a good example.
Chesky, the nominal leader of the group, is not largely known as a performer. He has in the past provided recordings on "Club de Sol" and "The New York Chorinhos" (a series of duets with guitarist Romero Lubambo in the early 90s) on his own Chesky label. On his solos, Chesky shows just the right touch of dissonance. Percussionist Hidalgo is the glue that holds this session together. Constantly at work, he is a powerful conguero who provides the pulse and drive that makes these compositions fluid in the same manner that Mongo Santamaria did back then. Likewise, Gonzalez knows the latin jazz role of the bass from his years with the Fort Apache Band.
I don't intend to denigrate this album as "old wine in new bottles." These are not recycled Latin jazz standards but new and original compositions which could almost be viewed as a suite that effectively conveys to the listener a message of spirit and renewal.
Track Listing: 52nd Street, East Harlem, Bronxville, Hell's Kitchen, New York Descargas, Acoustic Metal, N.Y. Cool, Club Descarga.
Personnel: Bob Mintzer, bass clarinet; Giovanni Hidalgo, congas; Andy Gonzalez, bass; David Chesky, piano; Randy Brecker, trumpet.