Trumpeter Diego Urcola, a mainstay in Paquito D'Rivera's band, branches out on Viva
with an all-star group that includes bassist Avishai Cohen and pianist Edward Simon. In addition, a bevy of Urcola compadres appear as guests, making for a diverse presentation of well-played originals with a Latin flair.
Urcola, who hails from Argentina, has chosen to highlight the music of his country. Things begin with his own "Tango Azul, a deft combination of jazz and Latin music that features the potent trombonist Conrad Herwig matched with Urcola's hot horn. Herwig returns for a meditative look at Argentinian pianist composer Guillermo Klein's "El Camino. Serving as the titular inspiration, Klein's bewitching "Viva benefits from percussionist Pernell Saturnino's backdrop, which joins with Antonio Sanchez's exquisitely soft drumming and enables Urcola to use his flugelhorn for wonderful understatement.
D'Rivera appears on three tunes. He showcases his alto chops on the hard-swinging "Afroraffo, a joyous piece written by Urcola's friend Juan Raffo, made all the more so by Dave Samuels' lively marimba and Saturnino's spirited percussion. He switches to clarinet for both a powerful duel with Urcola on "40/40 and a touching portrait of Urcola's daughter "Emilia, complete with her innocently angelic sampled laughter.
Urcola's teacher, saxophonist Jimmy Heath, guests on the leader's tribute, "Blues for Jimmy, which has Heath, Urcola and Herwig all wailing the blues. Heath's own "Sound for Sore Ears is given a heavy Latin treatment; Simon delves deeply into the melody. Astor Piazzolla's beautiful "Adios Nonino is brilliantly rendered by Urcola's horn and Samuels' vibes, and the panoramically percussive Raffo piece "Gringo Dance finds Herwig partnering with Urcola. Through its varying perspectives, Viva becomes a true celebration of friends, family and life itself.
Personnel: Diego Urcola: trumpet, flugelhorn; Edward Simon: piano; Avishai Cohen: bass; Antonio Sanchez: drums; Pernell Saturnino: percussion; Jimmy Heath: tenor saxophone (5,7); Paquito D'Rivera: alto saxophone, clarinet (3,6,10); Conrad Herwig: trombone (1,4,5,9); Dave Samuels: marimba, vibes (3,8).