By allowing their bands to jam together for this project, Bobby Matos and John Santos have created a loose-knit, easy to like affair. Both percussionist bandleaders emphasize Afro-Latin jazz in their respective ensembles. Beside a colorful lineup of tuned drums and cowbells of different sizes, their combined orchestra has room for traditional Afro-Cuban vocals and fiery horn solos. Two dramatic readings make an emotional impression. One appears as a reverent homage to bassist Israel "Cachao" Lopez, 82, who is widely regarded as the creator of mambo music. The other forges ahead in a contemporary mood with thoughts on how this music affects us. Passionate and piercing, the mambo has long given us visual and aural scenery for romance. Horn solos offer refreshing samples of the spontaneity; and everyone in the combined band gets involved. Of particular note are the spots provided by John Calloway on piano and flute, Michael Turre on baritone sax, Wayne Wallace on trombone, Eliseo Borrero on bass, Victor Cegarra on piano and both Ron Stallings & Melecio Magadaluyo on saxophones. Both leaders share their enthusiasm through various percussion instruments. Santos and Matos reach a high point on "Oye Me Querida," on bongos and timbales, respectively, when they interact with conguero Robertito Melendez with spirits soaring. Both bandleaders provide effective examples of the required rhythms, while leading their combined orchestra through a pleasurable session of mambo jazz.
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.