The latest release of Sonido Isleño wouldn't disappoint followers of this New York group and it's as good an intro to its distinctively economic musical style as any of its previous recordings. BenjamÃ-n Lapidus, whose main ax is the Cuban tres, is the group's leader and he has always endeavored to offer somewhat unfamiliar takes on the all too familiar mixture of jazz and Cuban music. The results are always infectiously danceable...for the most part...and quite an enjoyable listening experience that informs, entertains and challenges.
John Coltrane figures prominently in the title cut, as well as its cognate "Bride of Blue Tres, and "Coltrane con changüÃ-. The former is a truly rare trio straight-ahead tres accented performance, with Harvie S. laying it on heavy and woodsy on the bass. Its melodic swing enhances its endemic simplicity. The latter Coltrane inspired composition avails itself of one of Lapidus' favorite musical resources: the protoson Cuban Eastern musical family encompassed by nengón and changüÃ-. Its rhythmic undertow isn't quite what one hears in son, or its first cousins in salsa, and Jesús Álvarez does an adequate-albeit-rather-basic job in the bongó de monte or changüÃ- bongos. More than Coltrane with changüÃ-, it is the opposite. The lyrics are rather didactic and there's very little Coltrane...in spite of Paul Carlon's sax participation...as it is quite a traditional cut. The effort is quaintly enjoyable nonetheless.
On the Afro Cuban front, "Palo Jazz shines through. It's the most extended cut in the production and the vocals of Pedro Pablo MartÃ-nez are seasoned just right. This 6/8 composition features the leader on electric guitar and Carlon on sax.
"Bedtime, on the other hand, is a slow paced romantic electric guitar musical venue that doesn't deviate from its bolero inspired roots and lends itself for a tasteful slow dance. Before bedding your object d'amour you would have traversed much hotter musical territory in the two opening cuts as Blue Tres has plenty of tempo and thematic variety.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.