Pianist, composer and arranger Alex Conde has a unique identity; he is a flamenco musician who combines flamenco with his jazz background. After the broad Latin fusion of Origins (Uprising/Ropeadope, 2018), Conde has returned to a focus on classic bebop. Like Descarga For Monk (Zoho Music, 2015), the pianist revisits a foundational bebop pianist. And the recording sessions took place in Oakland, with an ensemble which duplicates many of the players on the Monk sessions.
Pianist Bud Powell may be even more revered as a pianist than Thelonious Monk; certainly his style was more widely emulated. But he is not as highly regarded as a composer, and Conde's program shines a welcome light on several lesser-known tunes, while also including more commonly played highlights such as "Parisian Thoroughfare," "Tempus Fugit" and "Celia." The arrangements re-imagine the songs underlaid with Latin dance rhythms, listed as subtitles in the track list.
For the core band, Conde is joined by percussionist John Santos, double bassist Jeff Chambers and drummer Colin Douglas (augmented by additional percussionist Sergio Martinez)a grouping similar to the Monk session. These arrangements benefit from an expanded ensemble on several tracks, beginning with trumpeter Mike Olmos on the opener "The Fruit," a sprightly tune not often played which benefits from the buleria rhythm. Guitarist Jose Luis de la Paz amplifies the flamenco feel on "Oblivion," and adds even more to "Parisian Thoroughfare" with two overdubbed guitars and a solo. Jeff Narell's steel pan contributes a unique color to "Wall," which is given an appropriate Calypso treatment.
Above all else, there is a powerful synthesis between Conde's flamenco-influenced arrangements and Powell's foundational bebop language. It is bebop and flamenco, and has an energy all of its own. Flamenco and bebop fans should both take note.
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).