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Marlon Simon: In Case You Missed It

Mark F. Turner By

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Many jazz fans are probably more familiar with pianist Edward Simon than his talented siblings Michael (trumpet) and Marlon (drums). But brother Marlon's aptly titled In Case You Missed It might help to change that. The fact that Marlon Simon is an impressive percussionist and composer quickly surfaces with this fourth recording, leading his eclectic band, Nagual Spirits.

While much of Latin jazz has been culled from the historic Afro-Latin and American jazz melting pot, there have been some interesting modern flavors wafting in the airwaves on recent recordings: saxophonist Miguel Zenon's Jibaro (Marsalis Music, 2005), pianist Edsel Gomez's Cubist Music (Zoho Music, 2006), and flautist Mark Weinstein's Algo Mas ( Jazzheads, 2005). Like these, Simon's recording carries the traditions of the music as well as interjecting newer themes.

Take for instance the intricate use of ethnic vocals and strings (violin, viola, and cello) on "Overture, which gives the music a sweeping elegance and a folkloric element. There's an interesting tension between the strings, percussion, and horns on the melodious "Un Canto a Ericka and "Root Medley, which contains multiple music forms and a wonderful extended drum solo by Simon.

For listeners who yearn for familiar beats there are up-tempo tracks such as "In Case You Missed It and "Pa Los Morillo, authentically infectious, with waves of percussion and heated ritmos.

Brothers Edward and Michael add their crafts and provide memorable performances, and the entire cast of players steps up the plate—including Peter Brainin (reeds), Roberto Quinteros (congas), and Alex Norris (trumpet)—and knocks sounds out of the park with exciting and vigorous solos. From Hilton Ruiz's funky boogaloo "Home Cooking, the quiet moments of "Huele a Peligro, to the labyrinthine pattern of "Manicero, the music is spontaneous yet consistently high in quality.

In Case You Missed It is not so much a groundbreaking new thing in Latin jazz music as it is an intelligent execution of Simon's skillful arrangements of the past and present. These ideas sound fresh, veering not to either extreme but adding just the right touches, keeping the music interesting and thankfully non-formulaic. Hats off—and shoes as well (for dancing)—to the lesser-known, but equally talented brother, Marlon Simon.

Track Listing: Overture; In Case You Missed It; Home Cooking; Pa Los Morillo; Un Canto a Ericka; Passing By; Huele a Peligro; Manicero; Root Medley.

Personnel: Marlon Simon: percussion, drums, timbales, coro, musical direction, voice; Peter Brainin: saxophones; Edward Simon: piano; Roberto Quintero: congas, percussion, voice; Alex Norris: trumpet; Michael Simon: trumpet (3, 9); Michael Boone: bass (1, 3, 4, 6, 9); Boris Kozlov: bass (2, 7, 8); Nelson Gonzalez: guiro (3); Rom

Title: In Case You Missed It | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Jazzheads

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