One might think that Chris Trinidad would have a hard time figuring out his next move after Chris Trinidad's Chant Triptych II (Iridium, 2018), an instrumental album based on traditional Gregorian chants but played on instruments from India, the Balkans and other cultures.
But Trinidad eventually landed upon this recipe: Take one Filipino-Canadian bassist. Add songs he wrote on cruise ships in the Caribbean. Marinate for 19 years. Combine with one Mexican-American Grammy-winning arranger of salsa music.
The above may be the simplest and best way to explain this magical follow-up, Chris Trinidad y Con Todo, which this San Francisco Bay area bassist, educator and choral conductor collaboratively assembled with pianist-arranger Christian Tumalan (who also co-leads the Pacific Mambo Orchestra with trumpeter Steffen Kuehn). Their combined musicianship helps create a colorful sounda postcard from the Caribbean Jazz Project enjoying a hot Afro-Cuban weekend jaunt to Havana.
The playful and prowling "Tigres Blancos y Elefantes Grises" (White Tigers and Grey Elephants) was first a jazz waltz until Trinidad asked Tumalan to arrange it as an Afro-Cuban bembe; this version suggests something written or arranged by pianist Arturo O'Farrill because it seems to set such a perfect, full but uncluttered table for tenor saxophonist Tony Peebles to graze through in his solo.
Tumalan's vibrant arrangement of "Hasta Entonces, Mi Amigo" (Until Then, My Friend) changes its opening songo into a charanga with lush and lively rhythms and melodies. "I wrote this song over two years while listening to copious amounts of jazz by Ralph Towner, Pat Metheny, and Roy Haynes," Trinidad's notes explain.
Tumalan also consistently steals this show with the vision, passion, and execution of his piano solos. He is utterly brilliant in "Hasta Enconces, Mi Amigo" and in "Principios De La Causalidad" (The Principles of Causality) which should have come with its own handle so you could grab on as it races through your ears.
"Llegando A La Razón" (Arrive to Reason) steps out more tempered and deliberate, like a Satie ballet piece, with trumpeter Bill Ortiz projecting such an emotionally accurate sound for its moodvulnerable, trembling in vibrato and whispering Sketches of Spain.
Luna Nueva En Mi Mente (New Moon In Mind); Ojos Abiertos (Eyes Open); Tigres Blancos Y Elefantes Grises (White Tigers And Grey Elephants); Llegando A La Razón (Arrive To Reason); La Esencia De La Intención (Essence Of The Intention); Principios De La Causalidad (The Principles Of Causality); Hasta Entonces, Mi Amigo (Until Then, My Friend); Espíritu Del Antiguo Sol (Old Sun In Spirit).
Chris Trinidad: bass guitar; Christian Tumalan: piano; Carlos Caro: congas, bongo, güiro and chekere; Colin Douglas: timbal kit, clave and bells; Bill Ortiz: trumpet (1, 4, 6–8); Jeff Cressman: trombone (1, 6–8); Jamie Dubberley: trombone (2–5); Tony Peebles: tenor saxophone (3, 6); Anthony Blea: violin (2, 3, 5); Tod Dickow: flute (2–5); Juan Luis Perez: voice (2, 5, 8); Christelle Durandy: voice (2, 5, 8).