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From Austin, Texas, a Latin ensemble that’s hotter than habanero salsa and fresh as cilantro. La Tribu is a very large band that specializes in a variety of Latin musical styles and mixes in some bright new surprises. Ataca! is a journey through dusty rural cantinas, neon-lit nightclubs, Kinky Friedman novels, and parts unknown.
This is a band that’s clearly done its homework when it comes to Latin jazz and folk stylings. The horns wail and punch as hard as Machito’s ever did, and the walls of massed percussion drive the group with the force of Hannibal’s elephants. Pianist Eddie Hobizal, who appears on most of the tracks, helps to ground the goings-on with his traditional, split-octave playing. Modern touches pop up at intervals, such as the subtly effective turntable work of D.J. Cassanova on the title track and “Dark & Dangerous”, and the weird guitar augmentations on “I Know”. The horn sections often recall more contemporary big bands like that of Bob Florence, although they remain pretty true to the Latin spirit.
The English vocals by David Pulkingham and Rey Arteaga are quite unexpected at first, but they add a novel dimension of Americano humor to the proceedings. “La Tuna” is a hilarious Tex-Mex story that jostles along like a drunk on stilts, and “Dark & Dangerous” quotes The Doors in fun fashion. The skulking “I Know” is quite reminiscent of Sting’s compositions, and “Tarantula” isn’t far removed from Ricky Martin’s oeuvre. Interspersed, of course, are Spanish vocals (often in coro ) which help to anchor the Latino spirit of the album once again. Fear not; the novelty aspects don’t detract from the fact that this is one exquisitely crafted, musicianly release.
Ataca! is anything but your average Latin-jazz disc. It’s a cut or two above, not only for the impeccable musicianship of everyone involved but for all the entertaining surprises within. Highly recommended!
Track Listing: Introduction; Ataca; La Tuna; Tu Vas A Saber; Gracias Papi; Sylvia; Dark & Dangerous; Llego La Tribu; Tarantula; Lo De Nosotros; I Know.
Personnel: Rey Arteaga, vocals and maracas; Tito Duffus, vocals and guiro; Christian Fernandez, vocals; David Pulkingham, vocals and guitars; Luis Guerra, vocals and bass; Carmelo Torres, bongos and congas; Michael Duffy, congas and percussion; Chip Vayenas, drum set and timbales; Scott McIntosh, alto and baritone saxophones; Carlos Sosa, alto and tenor saxophones; Mark
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.