Jacaranda was the venue. Chicago’s Little Village strip was the location. Under the leadership of violinist James Sanders, Conjunto: Live in Little Village
was recorded live.
Conjunto proper, not “Conjúnto,” in Spanish Caribbean countries, originally refers to a type of Cuban trumpet-led ensemble such as the primigenial Conjunto de Arsenio Rodríguez. Illinois’ Conjunto, however, adheres to a freer interpretation of such a nomenclature per their self-definition at their website. They, after all, are a mainstream Jazz group fronted by violin and a saxophonist doubling on flute, facilitating aural identities that range from Cuban Charanga to other forms such as the usual montuno, Afro-Cuban 6/8 and guaguancó that lie at the core of some of the most popular forms of Spanish Caribbean music. Perhaps some leeway ought to be expected in regards to their evolving Jazz musical self-identity.
James Sanders and Steve Eisen largely carry the band. They come across as the most exciting, articulate and knowledgeable soloists and ensemble playerswell versed in the straight-ahead idiom, seasoned à la foreign Iron Chef challenger adding the Latin to their Jazz recipe. Sanders’ violin playing is always on top, well intoned, forceful and impelling. Eisen’s saxing and fluting is at par with Sanders work, ‘nuff said there. They certainly complement each other well and elevate the communal sharing needed to keep a gig grooving as needed as they certainly did on that occasion.
A couple of sections lag, however. On a good portion of the first half of the 6/8-Cha “Consejera,” Sanders' steady edge just doesn’t get through the rhythm section’s feel. Thankfully, things improve immediately by the time Donald Neale takes his turn on the “black and whites.” The record documents a live gig, nonetheless, and the listening experience is charmed by that fresh reality.
Grab a drink, get down to groove... Hell, dance with Conjunto!
Note : It’s “On Green Dolphin Street,” Branislaw Kaper, not Caper, Jesús “Chucho”, not José, Almarán, Danzón, and Hernández.
Contact: Conjunto .