How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
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 groupGrammy-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
's "Philadelphia Mambo" features some fine ensemble playing and soloing from the quintet. This lively arrangement of Puente's tune is dynamic and positive: a great way to end the album.
Two gentler and more reflective tunes demonstrate the band's versatility. Gilberto Valdes' gorgeous ballad "Ogguere (Soul of the Earth)" is treated with great delicacy and empathy by the quintet. This is a lovely performance with Wallace's muted and controlled trombone and Belove's rich, soulful electric bass solos worthy of particular mention. J.J. Johnson
for Wallace's "Serafina Del Caribe." This is a genuine "trombone tour-de-force," as Wallace describes it, combining musical styles to create a slinky tune with terrific ensemble horn playing and distinctive solos.
's "Perdido" while Céspedes' passionate performance of Moises Simon's "The Peanut Vendor" adds a sense of drama to this familiar standard. The two singers are perfectly in tune with the quintet: it's a shame that their appearances are confined to one song each.
To Hear From There is a graceful, joyous album. The Latin Jazz Quintet is a truly soulful outfit and the music conveys an undeniable warmth and humanity: this is a band, and an album, of real quality.
Track Listing: La Escuela; Serafina Del Caribe; Perdido; Los Gatos; Descarga En Blue; Ogguere (Soul of the Earth); Lament; The Peanut Vendor (El Manicero); Yemaya (The Seven Seas); ¡Bebo Ya Llego!; Philadelphia Mambo.
Personnel: Wayne Wallace: trombone, Wagner tuba, vocals; Murray Low: piano, vocals; David Belove: bass, vocals; Paul van Wageningen: trap drums, vocals; Michael Spiro: percussion, vocals; Kenny Washington: vocals (3); Bobi Céspedes: vocals (8); Jeff Cressman: trombone (2); Natalie Cressman: trombone (2); Dave Martell: trombone (2).