Trombonist/composer/arranger Papo Vazquez, along with his group Pirates Troubadours, has just unleashed Carnival in San Juan, a multifaceted celebration which captures the spirit of its title.
And the title cut is quite an opening statement. Vazquez’ solo bursts with rapid-fire phrases, and tenor man Willie Williams follows with a rollicking upper register attack. Pianist Arturo O’Farrill plays his solo at the same tempo but with the feelings of an observer, not a participant. The percussion of Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, Roberto and Tito Cepeda, and Joe Gonzalez keep the rhythm going full speed ahead. “Mondo Bizarro” is a crisply arranged mid-tempo tune which includes a horn riff reminiscent of the electric guitar intro on The Temptations’ “Cloud Nine.”
The mood becomes somber on “Las Torres,” a wrenching 9/11 tribute. Gonzalez delivers a passionate bilingual lamentation while the other band members pick up the chorus behind him. The raucous “Plena Pa’ Las Nenas” takes us back to the carnival, then things cool down again with Vazquez’s arrangement of bassist Bill Lee’s “Worlds.” The group goes for the jugular on “Vianda con Bacalao,” a solid Latin funk. Vazquez and Williams wail on their horns, Benitez lays down a pumping electric bass groove and the percussion section is absolute tachychardia.
Vazquez shows that he can also play straight-ahead with perfect fluency. His letter perfect arrangement of Monk’s “Stuffy Turkey” underscores the composer’s trademark eccentricity and features crisp drumming by guest Victor Jones and swinging piano by Fred McFarlane, as well as more fine soloing by Vazquez and Williams. “Carlito’s Coco” has free jazz overtones worthy of Ornette Coleman. From every genre, tempo and angle, Carnival in San Juan is a total triumph for Papo Vazquez.
Track Listing: 1. Carnival in San Juan
2. Mundo Bizarro
3. Las Torres
4. Plena Pa' Las Nenas
6. Vianda con Bacalao
7. En La Cueva de Tan
8. Stuffy Turkey
9. Like a Little Child
10. Snow Angel
11. Carlitos Coco
12. Fireflies from the Orion Nebula & Belen
Personnel: Bill Lee, Tito Cepeda, Arturo O' Farrill, Milton Cardona, Willie Williams, John Benitez, Horacio Hernandez, Roberto Cepeda, Joe Gonzalez, Fred McFarlane, Victor Jones, Roberto Cepeda, Mario Rivera, Ivan Renta, Carlos Henriquez, Dafnis Prieto, Papo Vasquez
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet
I was first exposed to jazz in 1961 (at age 10) when I was in a shopping arcade in Southport, England with my parents. I fell in love with the music playing over the PA system; Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. After going through Rock 'n Roll, the Beatles and Heavy Metal/Hard Rock phases over the next eight or so years, I finally bought my first jazz album; We're All Together Again for the First Time by Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan. I was hooked on jazz, and still am 40+ years later.
I moved from England to the USA in 2002, and founded the Brookfield Jazz Society in 2005.
I became editor of the quarterly IAJRC Journalin 2012. The magazine goes to the worldwide membership of the IAJRC (International Association of Jazz Record Collectors) and many major libraries and educational establishments around the world.
As well as being the editor of the IAJRC Journal, I write about jazz and review CDs, vinyl, DVDs and books on jazz.
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