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From a live appearance in May, Jam Miami is a fiery Latin jazz performance with big band, starring Arturo Sandoval, Chick Corea, Poncho Sanchez and Pete Escovedo. Sandoval lets loose in front of a home audience and sets the standard by which the entire cast judges itself. Naturally, everyone rises to the occasion. Dave Samuels emulates the late Cal Tjader on “Soul Sauce.” Ray Vega and Dave Valentin spew dragon’s fire in a tribute to the late Tito Puente. Oscar D’León sings a traditional “Van Morena” alongside Nestor Torres’ charanga flute and Steve Turre’s earthy conch shells. He trades fours with Torres and recalls the vibrant spirit of Dizzy Gillespie. Turre’s inspiring spotlight conch solo turns up the heat.
When Corea brings in Origin for his “Wigwam,” the sextet explores different ways to present a Latin jazz solo. While not as effective as their recent albums, the creative work of Origin fits in just the same. Conguero Horacio Hernandez helps to keep the mood on track; however, the Fender Rhodes seems out of place. Corea comps and stretches out, but the result is lackluster.
Sandoval, Ed Calle and Steve Turre trade fours on “Ican” in a battle of the stars. Each has something different to offer and each bares his soul. The effect of a live audience seems to have a supernatural effect on this group. Corea returns to blend with Leo Quintero’s acoustic guitar and Sandoval’s ballad style on “A Mis Abuelos.” The composition is Sandoval’s tribute to his grandparents, who emigrated from Spain to Cuba long ago. The result is a beautiful ballad suite that fuses Spain’s ethnic folklore with the memory of Gil Evans. Here, the Fender Rhodes supplies a necessary tinge. It’s the session’s only dramatic ballad, and it serves to gracefully shape the corners of a highly recommended Latin jazz album.
Track Listing: Guachi Guaro (Soul Sauce); A Night in Tunisia; Medley para Tito (Ran Kan Kan & Oye Como Va); Ican; Wigwam; Van Morena; Poncho con su Tambor; B
Personnel: Arturo Sandoval- trumpet, flugelhorn; Chick Corea- Fender Rhodes; Poncho Sanchez- congas; Pete Escovedo- timbales; Ed Calle- tenor saxophone; Hilton Ruiz- piano; Eddie Resto- bass; Horacio Hernandez- drums, percussion; Dave Samuels- vibraphone; Steve Turre- trombone, conch shells; Claudio Roditi, Ray Vega- trumpet; Dave Valentin, Nestor Torres- flute; Oscar D
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.