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Jack Costanzo: Back From Havana

Jim Santella By

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After 25 years away from the spotlight, Jack Costanzo has returned. His album features an exciting band - around 10 pieces for the most part - performing intense Afro-Cuban arrangements. Chicago native Costanzo, whose ancestry is Sicilian, has lived in Southern California since his discharge from the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II. Two years with Stan Kenton and five with Nat King Cole led to studio work, significant television and motion picture projects, and live performances as a leader. Several of his albums have been reissued in recent years, including the long out-of-print GNP-Crescendo album Mr. Bongo – Jack Costanzo.

Now 78 and still employing the crisp, staccato bongo attack that drove the theme to television’s Mission: Impossible, Costanzo surrounds himself with creative soloists and powerful Latin jazz performers. Gilbert Castellanos, 27, moved to San Diego in 1995 after the members of Black/Note went their separate ways. His soulful trumpet and blazing, high-voltage technique flavor the session strongly. Equally significant in their creative solo output are other horn players, both pianists, and singer Marilu. Thirty-five second audio clips of each track are provided at CuBop’s web site .

Blazing fast, in a Tito Puente mood, the band soars through emotionally charged Latin dance music. Much more effective at a moderate tempo, the band also delivers cool chestnuts, such as Nat Adderley’s “Jive Samba,” where Bill Caballero, Steve Feierabend and Bob Johnston connect with the audience from a soulful solo standpoint. Costanzo’s fiery conga and bongo work penetrates the entire session with characteristic passion. Marilu and powerfully percussive pianist Robert Lanuza fire up the traditional Afro-Cuban “Quimbara.” Costanzo’s album is recommended for its passion, insertion of new & unheralded talent, and fervor.


Title: Back From Havana | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Strand Records


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