291

Caribbean Jazz Project: Afro Bop Alliance

Woodrow Wilkins By

Sign in to view read count
Caribbean Jazz Project: Afro Bop Alliance Lionel Hampton was one of the first "real" jazz vibraphonists. In more recent years, Gary Burton has been among those who have kept the instrument an integral part of the jazz scene. However, another name is also synonymous with the instrument. That is Dave Samuels.

A longtime member of Spyro Gyra who occasionally reunites with the group, performing on a few songs here and there for recordings, Samuels is a master of both the vibraphone and the marimba. He also, when desiring a certain effect, has used a mallet-triggered synthesizer. After a brief solo career that included such recordings as Living Colors (MCA, 1988) and Ten Degrees North (MCA, 1989), Samuels joined forces with pals Paquito D'Rivera on alto sax and clarinet and Andy Narell on steel pans, to form the Caribbean Jazz Project. D'Rivera and Narell are no longer with the group, but Samuels is still its leader.

Afro Bop Alliance revisits nine songs previously recorded by CJP, done this time with the Maryland-based Afro Bop Alliance, a big band with a Latin sound.

The set begins with a dynamic offering of "Rendezvous," a track Samuels wrote for the Africa-themed Ten Degrees North and later appeared on CJP's Grammy-nominated Here and Now—Live in Concert (Concord, 2005). While the first two recordings are exceptional, this one is equally engaging. With a heavy dose of horns, Joe McCarthy and Roberto Quintero splitting percussion duties, and Tim Stanley's trumpet solo, "Rendezvous" is more exciting than ever.

John Coltrane's "Naima," which also was on Here and Now, is moderately paced. Samuels' vibraphone solo is the highlight, but the CJP rhythm section of McCarthy, Quintero and Max Murray on bass, complements the entire package. Steve Williams contributes an elegant soprano saxophone solo, underscored by soft horns.

"Five for Elvin," another Samuels original, gives the percussionists plenty of room to stretch out. First, they underscore Samuels' marimba solo, complemented by Murray and pianist J.J. Wright. Later in the song, McCarthy and Quintero are out front, accompanied only by piano and bass, setting up the song's closing.

Samuels and the rhythm section set up Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments." Luis Hernandez contributes a moving tenor sax solo, which gives way to Samuels on the marimba, punctuated by an amplified horn section. The horns then back off, leaving it to Samuels, pianist Harry Appelman and the rhythm section; Murray's bass stands out and the horns come back in to help close the song.

Other tracks presented here are Dizzy Gillespie's "Soul Sauce," Thelonius Monk's "Bemsha Swing" and Samuels' "Picture Frame," "Birds of a Feather" and "Afro Green." Throughout, the Afro Bop horn section is strong but doesn't overpower CJP. Samuels, as he has done throughout his career, shows his versatility. Whether carrying the melody, stretching out on a solo or complementing the other musicians, he demonstrates why he is regarded as one of the world's leaders in jazz vibes and marimba. Afro Bop Alliance is an hour's worth of engaging music.


Track Listing: Rendezvous; Naima; Five for Elvin; Soul Sauce; Picture Frame; Stolen Moments; Birds of a Feather; Afro Green; Bemsha Swing.

Personnel: Dave Samuels: vibes, marimba; Steve Williams: lead alto, soprano saxophone, solo (2); Andy Axelrad: alto saxophone; Luis Hernandez: tenor saxophone, solos; Vince Norman: tenor saxophone; Rob Holmes: baritone saxophone; Chris Walter: lead trumpet; Nick Cooper: trumpet; Greg Reese: trumpet; Tim Stanley: trumpet, solo; Dan Drew: lead trombone; Jim McFalls: trombone; Mark Morgan: bass trombone; Harry Appelman: piano; J.J. Wright: piano (3); Max Murray: bass; Joe McCarthy: drums, percussion (bells, timbale, clave, chekere, shakers); Robert Quintero: percussion (congas, bongos, maracas).

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Heads Up International | Style: Latin/World


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "The Chicago Plan" CD/LP/Track Review The Chicago Plan
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 16, 2017
Read "Billionaire Blues" CD/LP/Track Review Billionaire Blues
by Mark Werlin
Published: January 19, 2017
Read "Uptown Down" CD/LP/Track Review Uptown Down
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 26, 2016
Read "Return" CD/LP/Track Review Return
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 3, 2016
Read "Oscar, with Love" CD/LP/Track Review Oscar, with Love
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 19, 2016
Read "Néo" CD/LP/Track Review Néo
by James Nadal
Published: April 13, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!