374

Lalo Schifrin: Latin Jazz Suite

Douglas Payne By

Sign in to view read count
Lalo Schifrin's Latin Jazz Suite is a masterful celebration of the diverse and colorful sounds and feelings that Latin forms add to the jazz vocabulary. It is also a reflection of the composer's successful contributions to the Latin musical language over the last four decades.

This enthralling, consistently engaging six-piece suite - recorded live over two nights of its June 1999 premiere in Cologne, Germany — most recalls Schifrin's historic Gillespiana suite. But Latin Jazz Suite is a milestone of arguably greater proportion. As a composer, Schifrin here reveals a greater, more refined depth of maturity, a worldly mastery of musical forms and a perfected sensibility for the drama and adventure of long-form structures.

The suite scales Cuban ("Montuno"), Caribbean ("Martinique") and Argentinean ("Pampas") structures to those informed by Brazilian ("Manaos"), African (the superb "Ritual") and flamenco ("Fiesta") styles. Percussion flavors subtly throughout, but never dominates or overwhelms. Schifrin's no tourist. He uses his compositional prowess to suggest the different landscapes he traverses.

He also divides the star roles most intriguingly. The orchestra — voiced here by the great WDR Big Band, which commissioned the work — carries the majority of the melodies and punctuates poetically with some of Schifrin's most Gil Evans-like scoring (perhaps acknowledging the influence of Sketches of Spain ). Solos are manned by an exciting triumvirate including Schifrin (marvelous) on piano, Jon Faddis (at his Dizzyest best) and young firebrand David Sanchez on tenor and soprano saxophones. A stronger triad is difficult to conceive.

The suite's highlight is the pulsating, chant-like "Ritual," a hypnotic and vibrant piece in 12/8 time that elicits especially commanding solos from Faddis, Sanchez and, most notably, Schifrin himself. Other highlights include the catchy "Martinique," a Caribbean polyglot of Sonny Rollins's "St. Thomas" and Schifrin's own "Roulette Rhumba," and the concerto-like beauty of "Pampas," Schifrin's visit back to a 1978 theme (from his underrated Gypsies LP) enlivened most imaginatively by "Street Tattoo," the composer's theme to the film, Boulevard Nights.

This 65-minute opus ultimately suggests a sort of jazz symphony. The invention of Schifrin's conception interacting with the wit and verve of the players protect against any kind of museum-quality stodginess too. As it unfurls, it reveals itself as a most entertaining work. When it's over, it lingers in the mind and the heart as a real work of art.

Surely, Latin Jazz Suite is among the best, most memorable jazz recordings of the year and like Gillespiana, Jazz Mass and Marquis de Sade, one of the great jazz achievements in Lalo Schifrin's provocative career.

Players:Jon Faddis: trumpet; David Sanchez: tenor sax, soprano sax; Lalo Schifrin: composer, conductor, piano; Ignacio Berroa: drums; Alex Acuna, Alphonso Garrido, Marcio Doctor: percussion; with the WDR Big Band: Andy Haderer, Rob Bruynen, Klaus Osterloh, John Marshall, Rick Kiefer: trumpet, flugelhorn; Dave Horler, Ludwig Nuss, Bernt Laukamp: trombone; Lucas Schmid: bass trombone; Heiner Wiberny, Harald Rosenstein, Olivier Peters, Rolf Romer, Jens Neufang: reeds; Frank Chastenier: piano, organ; John Goldsby: bass; Paul Shigihara: guitar.

Tracks: Montuno; Martinique; Pampas; Fiesta; Ritual; Manaos.

Title: Latin Jazz Suite | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Aleph Records, Inc


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Best of / Year End
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Jazz Meets The...
Aleph Records, Inc
2011
buy
The Dead Pool (The...
Aleph Records, Inc
2009
buy
Mission: Impossible...
Aleph Records, Inc
2008
buy
Enter The Dragon...
Aleph Records, Inc
2008
buy
Sudden Impact (The...
Aleph Records, Inc
2008
buy
Piano Strings And...
Aleph Records, Inc
2008
buy

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review Vol. 1
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Liquid Melodies" CD/LP/Track Review Liquid Melodies
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 21, 2017
Read "I Believe In You" CD/LP/Track Review I Believe In You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2017
Read "Grey Mirror" CD/LP/Track Review Grey Mirror
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 6, 2017
Read "Danse" CD/LP/Track Review Danse
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 7, 2017
Read "The Arrangement" CD/LP/Track Review The Arrangement
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: June 11, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.