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Mark Weinstein: Con Alma

Woodrow Wilkins By

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There's a common word of advice often given to beginning authors: "Write what you know. It's a suggestion that the aspiring novelist would do best by writing about things that are familiar, such as personal experiences. If such advice were followed by musicians, life would be quite boring. If Mark Weinstein had stuck to what he knew, Con Alma wouldn't be the same.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Weinstein spent many years as a trombonist and composer. He first made his mark in Latin jazz in the 1960s. As a brass player, he performed alongside such artists as Eddie Palmieri, Chick Corea, Maynard Ferguson, Cal Tjader and Herbie Mann. Today, Weinstein is making his mark with a woodwind instrument, furthering his career in a variety of styles, including Afro-Cuban, salsa and Brazilian.

Con Alma is a collection of eleven songs--- three originals, plus new arrangements of compositions by Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and others. Weinstein plays soprano, alto and bass flutes. One of the originals is "Santi's Africaleidescope, a song whose title isn't the only thing outside the box. Santi Debriano's bass helps carry the rhythm on this soulful track. But it's Weinstein's freely expressive flute that carries this piece. After a solo by pianist Mark Levine, Debriano gets in some licks of his own.

The group jams on Coltrane's "Crescent, one of several tracks that allow plenty of time for stretching out. Drummer Maurico Herrera and percussionist Pedrito Martinez give this one some extra punch, while the other musicians add their touch, with Levine's solo one of several highlights. Weinstein takes over during a softer passage that sets up the closing.

Herrera and Martinez get busy again on Wayne Shorter's "Fee Fi Fo Fum, working over the toms and congas respectively, during a middle passage. Also notable are Weinstein's "Broadway Local, Levine's "La Coneja Loca and covers of Mulgrew Miller's "Soul-Leo and Victor Young's "Stella by Starlight.

Percussion and brass have long been staples of Latin jazz. However, Weinstein shows this style of music can be just as engaging without trumpets or trombones. Though he plays in his own groove, his sound brings to mind such flutists as Tim Weisberg, Bob Militello and the aforementioned Mann. Con Alma is a sure keeper.

Track Listing: Santi's Africaleidescope; Broadway Local; Con Alma; Crescent; Fee Fi Fo Fum; Evidence; La Coneja Loca; Gotcha; Soul-Leo; Monte Adentro; Stella by Starlight

Personnel: Mark Weinstein: flutes; Mark Levine: piano; Santi Debriano: bass; Mauricio Herrera: drums; Pedrito Martinez:congas.

Title: Con Alma | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Jazzheads

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