Having demonstrated his mastery of flamenco-flavored jazz on Origins (Uprising/Ropeadope, 2018) by featuring principally his own compositions, pianist Alex Conde has once again turned back to a bebop master of oldcontinuing a project he began with Descarga for Monk (Zoho Music) back in 2015. In this instance Bud Powell is the dedicatee, and Conde brings characteristic Latin flair to nine of Powell's compositions in a way that is both accomplished and engaging.
There is a certain irony to this endeavor, insofar as one of the most shopworn criticisms of bebop is that "you can't dance to it"and if there is anything one can say about Conde's music, it is that it is eminently danceable. Taking some of Powell's most iconic work and rendering it amenable to the flamenco idiom does take some doing; but Conde's skills as an arranger give a smart rhythmic sheen to pieces like "Bouncing with Bud" and "Parisian Thoroughfare," as the music sways with a gentle yet insistent lilt.
Conde's partners play key roles throughout. Percussionists John Santos and Sergio Martinez add the right accents in the right places, and guitarist Jose Luis de la Paz and trumpeter Mike Olmos get a couple of tracks each on which to shinethe former especially nimble in dialogue with Conde on "Parisian Thoroughfare," the latter effervescent on a brisk reading of "Tempus Fugit." Moreover, Conte's bass and drum team of Jeff Chambers and Colin Douglas handles the subtleties of Conde's music with ease, especially crucial given the variety of flamenco styles employed on the album. And it is not all flamenco, either, as "Wail" is built on a calypso foundation and "Tempus Fugit" works its magic via an up-tempo rumba.
In addition to its other merits, it is simply a fun recording to listen to, as the ample presence of hand-clapping and occasional shouts of joy reveal a band in exultant flight. Conde's Latin-inflected formula is a winning one, and if he has other classic pianists in line for similar treatment, such efforts will be more than welcome.
The Fruit (Bulería); Oblivion (Tangos); Bouncing with Bud (Alegría); Dusk in Saudi (Soleá); Wail (Calypso); Parisian Thoroughfare (Bulería al golpe); Hallucinations (Latin/Jazz); Tempus Fugit (Rumba); Celia (Bulería).
Alex Conde: piano/arrangements; John Santos: congas, bongos (2, 5, 7, 8); Jeff Chambers: double bass; Sergio Martínez: cajon, djembe (1, 2, 3, 4, 6 & 9); Mike Olmos: trumpet (1, 8); Jeff Narell: steel pan (5); Jose Luis de la Paz: guitar (2, 6).