Trombonist Wayne Wallace and his Latin Jazz Quintet have come together on ¡Bien Bien!, representing the gamut of Latin music, from Latin jazz to cha cha cha, cu-bop, bolero, and bamba. Surrounded by the talents percussionist Michael Spiro, bassist David Belove, pianist Murray Low, and drummer Paul van Wageningen, Wallace manages to make the trombone sound as though it were made just for this music.
¡Bien Bien! is a mix of Wallace's own original compositions (which include the disc's title track, "Mojito Café," and "Playa Negra") along with a few selections from such notables as Duke Ellington, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane, some of the jazz world's most celebrated sons.
In reading the song descriptions provided in the disc's jacket, it's logical to infer that the songs featured on the disc were selected because they were thought to tell the story of jazz and Latin musicwhat it really means and how that meaning is only really brought forth through the artists who choose to tell the music's story. Wallace seems to take the inference one step further, however, and appears to use the music to also tell his storyhis views on life, his gratitude and respect for those who have played this music before him, in addition to his love for the music and the cultures that helped to nourish it.
When Dave Martell and former Duke Ellington Orchestra member Julian Priester join Wallace on trombones during the opening notes of Ellington's "Going Up!" and on Latin jazz giant Memo Acevedo's "Building Bridges" the musicians sound as though they are drawing energy from one to the next as the trombones' tone gets richer as both songs progress. Though the music is happening around them the trombones definitely take center stage in both instances.
"Mojito Café" begins with a subtle groove that has Wallace's trombone engaged in a sultry dance with Low's commanding piano playing and Spiro's soft yet omnipresent percussion work. Low and Spiro have equal footing on this track and, like a good band does, they manage to step into their role without outshining each other or the bandleader. The Rollins penned "Solid" gets a vamped up remake as Wallace takes the jazz tune and turns it into a more spirited and energetic version of the original.
What makes each of these songs and the entire recording so beautiful is that the special guests and members of the quintet are first rate performers that are on board to see Wallace's vision through to the end. The result is pure, unadulterated music that offers a great representation of the spirit of Latin music. Wallace should be proud.
¡Bien Bien!; Freedom Jazz Dance (Baile de Libertad); Mojito Cafe; Building Bridges; In a Sentimental Mood; Playa Negra; Going Up! (
Quintet- Wayne Wallace: trombone and vocals; Murray Low: piano and vocals; Michael Spiro: percussion and vocals; David Belove: bass and vocals; Paul van Wageningen: trap drums and vocals; Julian Priester: trombone; Dave Martell: trombone; Kenny Washington: vocals; Orlando Torriente: vocals.