Based upon the musicians who are involved with this project, one might expect something fresh, vibrant, and jubilant. Nonetheless, the trio along with special guest, multi-reedman Steve Slagle substantiated my suspicions. Percussionist Manolo Badrena, who has recorded and performed with Weather Report, Steve Khan, and others, propels this Latin tinged band through a series of memorably melodic pieces. The criminally under-recognized jazz guitarist Dave Stryker injects fluid progressions and peppery single note leads into a set also featuring first call session bassist Andy McKee. Essentially, the band melds jazzy themes with Afro-Cuban rhythms and Brazilian sambas amid a willingness to expound upon concepts in true improvising fashion. Here, the listener is afforded the best of both worlds as the musicians’ jab and spar amid some hearty solo spots and Badrena’s exuberant vocalise. They bridge the gap between Latin and contemporary jazz, but one of the dominant aspects resides within their ability to render beguiling themes with adventurous exchanges. While they toss a few shrewdly concocted deviations into the mix. Recommended!
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