440

Luis Mario Ochoa & Friends: Cimarron

Eric J. Iannelli By

Sign in to view read count
Luis Mario Ochoa & Friends: Cimarron
Cimarrón (meaning "free spirit") is the nonet that Havana-born guitarist and composer Luis Mario Ochoa assembled shortly after moving to Canada back in 1990. This eponymous release is not just the ensemble's third album, but also a celebration of its fifteen years of happy existence. Musical guests such as Paquito D'Rivera, Guido Basso, and Ochoa's father, Luis Ochoa, Sr., were invited to take part in the fiesta.

And what a free spirited celebration it is. "Como Penélope," a song about a woman awaiting her lover's return (the title acknowledges the page it takes from Homer's Odyssey), sets things in motion with a spicy son tempo and bright, sharp horns. In an equally bright tenor, Ochoa himself relates the tale of the faithful woman he sees every day in the same café, and in keeping with the jazz-inspired nature of Ochoa's brand of Latin music, Alexis Baró dishes up a fiery trumpet solo in between soothing coro harmonies. D'Rivera's self-penned "To Brenda with Love" maintains the pace, featuring his swinging clarinet and Ochoa's guitar atop a light, limber samba complete with cuica. Its effortless energy and grace make it one of the standout tracks.

Ochoa's soulful rearrangement of Eliseo Grenet's classic Cuban tune "Lamento Cubano" slows the party down to a medium tempo. It's followed by a truly cross-cultural rearrangement of Henry Mancini's "Days of Wine and Roses" as a swaying guaguancó, an exercise reminiscent of Joe Craven's outstanding Latin reinterpretations of Django Reinhardt charts.

But by this point it's become apparent that the majority of the solos, however accomplished, come from both major and minor musical guests, which seems odd given that this album is ostensibly highlighting the core nonet that is Cimmarón. This doesn't have any audible effect the fluidity and cohesion of the group as a whole, but the regular Cimarrón performers should, I think, have more than a supporting role after titling an album in the ensemble's honor, and particularly in light of such commanding solos from Cimmarón tenor saxman Jeff King (on "Bacuranao") and trombonist Russ Little (on "Old Devil Moon," which, incidentally, doesn't quite gel with Ochoa's admittedly "spanglish" vocals).

Cimmarón is, at any rate, a surprisingly varied and entertaining album that will continue to engage listeners with its appealing arrangements and infectious Latin rhythms. D'Rivera, Basso, and Ochoa Sr. (the latter two on the same track, no less) are excellent additions to a somewhat overabundant rotating cast of guest artists. And while the regular Cimmarón players deserve more consistently prominent places, Ochoa certainly proves himself multifariously gifted in original composition, fresh arrangements, and performance on both vocals and guitar.

Track Listing

Como Pen

Personnel

Luis Mario Ochoa: lead vocals, guitarist, arranger, composer and producer; Paquito D'Rivera: clarinet; Hilario Dur

Album information

Title: Cimarron | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Cuban Music Productions

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read All Figured Out
All Figured Out
Derek Brown and The Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra
Read Supersense
Supersense
Steph Richards
Read Alex Moxon Quartet
Alex Moxon Quartet
Alex Moxon Quartet
Read I Went This Way
I Went This Way
Rachel Musson
Read HH
HH
Lionel Loueke
Read Dominos
Dominos
Chuck Anderson

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.