Today, Pete Escovedo stands as one of the primary standard bearers of Latin jazz – along with Poncho Sanchez, Eddie Palmieri and Ray Barretto. At this live session recorded last summer in San Diego, the vibrant timbalero shows why – with nods to Cal Tjader, Tito Puente, Tito Rodriguez, and Azteca, the large Latin funk band that Escovedo co-led along with his brother Coke in the early 1970s. His children sit in with the band as emotions rise and fall with the powerful rhythms of fresh originals and familiar standards. Section work, ensemble counterpoint and individual improvisations intermingle. Percussion instruments take control.
The leader sets a festive mood with his bold timbale attitude; son Peter Michael sings in a welcome traditional style; daughter Sheila E. tears it up at the drum set; and son Juan Jose shapes the congas to fit each occasion. Wayne Wallace adds a lush trombone feature with “Pete Kelley’s Blues” and Robbie Kwock shines a bright trumpet on a majestic arrangement of “Viva Cepeda.” Pianists Joe Rotundi and Murray Low carry a major portion of the band’s kicking rhythmic drive. Toshi Yanagi offers a standout electric guitar solo on “Sunrise,” with a result that grooves deeply in a Santana mood. The session’s thrills are many: shimmering trumpets, celebratory voices, and poignant percussion. When four of the band’s members trade solos on “Whatcha Gonna Do,” then merge their spontaneous revolutions into one big fiesta, it’ll knock your socks off. Pete Escovedo’s highly recommended live session is just what the doctor ordered.
Track Listing: Esta Noche; La Cuna; Que Vivo Yo; Sunrise; La Piedra; The E Medley: Azteca Mozambique/Ah Ah/
Cueros; Pete Kelley
Personnel: Pete Escovedo- timbales, percussion, lead vocals, vocals; Sheila E.- drums, percussion, vocals;
Peter Michael Escovedo- guiro, bell, vocals; Juan Escovedo- congas, vocals; Justo Almario- flute,
saxophone; Melecio Magdaluyo- saxophone; Ramon Flores, Mario Gonzales, Louis Fasman,
Robbie Kwock- trumpet; Arturo Velasco, Wayne Wallace, Dave Gregoric- trombone; Toshi Yanagi-
guitar; Joe Rotundi, Murray Low- piano; Raymond McKinley, Mark Van Wageningen- bass; Paul
Van Wageningen- drums; Errol Knowles- lead vocals, vocals.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.