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From the melting pot of Latin jazz in all its vibrant, exhilarating colors comes the music of Angel “Papo” Vazquez. He weaves a vast mosaic, bringing into play an array of styles that dwell in bomba rhythms as well as in the waltz and the gentle ministrations of a delectable ballad.
Vazquez's control of phrasing and dynamics characterizes the structure of his songs. Adding to the impact is a band of top notch musicians and singers. In tandem they create a marvellous spell of music that goes beyond the perceived parameters of Latin jazz. A case in point is Monk's “Stuffy Turkey.” They play the tune without fuss or bother, straight on and with contagious joy punctuated by the hard swing of Williams. O’Farrill revels in the lyricism of the moment: there are no trajectories for him. He does not need them. Vazquez shapes it with subtle changes and a breezy air. A quieter feel flows through “Worlds,” with its catchy percussive base, and across “Snow Angel,” a transcendent ballad.
The four-part suite “En La Cueva de Tan” is a musical journey that moves through song, sensuous dance rhythms, a tempestuous 6/8 beat that sidles into an undulating 4/4 before sashaying into the rumba. Brimful of energy, with a beat that is heady and the confluence of percussion, drums and bass as well a luminous soprano solo from Mario Rivera, this becomes a fiesta for the mind and body. Another swaying tune, “Mundo Bizarro,” finds Vazquez etching the lines sharply, a few trills countenancing the approach. A surprise, and a welcome one, is “Carlitos Coco,” which moves from free expression to driving bop with all fire and no flash.
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.