This New York City-based combo is a self-proclaimed new entry in the Latin jazz marketplace in the Big Apple, "mixing post bop with Afro-Cuban rhythms." After hearing this group's efforts, I think that it would be more at home at The Knitting Factory playing avant-garde jazz than at a Latin/world showcase like S.O.B.'s. Led by Chilean-Cuban drummer Alex Garcia, Afromantra shows that it can play competent Latin jazz but demonstrates a tendency to take it outside on more than a few occasions.
Garcia contributed half of the ten tracks on Alignment. On the appropriately named "Take Out," Schlomi Cohen begins with a frenetic tenor sax solo that tries to channel late period Coltrane, while Guy David redeems things with a punchy trumpet solo. The two then meet in full cry on this eight minute excursion. "Eastern Spice" is a similar experience with outside statements from both David and Cohen. Fain & Webster's "Secret Love" starts off as a bolero but quickly gets sidetracked by piano and percussion interludes before returning to a montuno. "Transparencies" is performed as a samba on the melody line and could pass as bossa on a blindfold test with Lori Cotler's vocalese/scatting, but the tempo shifts to a Latin pulse for the piano/percussion bulk of the track.
There are typically many tempo changes during the course of this album, and Garcia may be confusing the technique as ground-breaking stuff that separates them from the pack. I would much rather hear at least a few numbers played through at a fixed pace. These guys have shown that they can play bebop and salsa – but not necessarily at the same time.
Rhythm Abstraction: Azure is the first volume of new compositions created as a follow up to 2018’s
release Rhythm Kaleidoscope. As with that release, Brock Avery improvised drum and percussion
solos. Frank Macchia then composed music for woodwinds and orchestra to Brock’s creations. Azure
is the first of three extended play albums of 6-7 compositions which will be released starting in
January and followed up in April and July. In Azure we have a created a group of pieces that continue
our quest for honoring the art of improvisation with a “stream-of-consciousness” sense of
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