247

Mario Escalera Times Two

Elliott Simon By

Sign in to view read count
Mario Escalera
Ballads Blues and Boleros Vol 1
Phoenix

Two very different discs from Mario Escalera highlight the breadth of his compositional skills and the inherent soulfulness of his playing regardless of format. From this tenor man who doubles on flute, Ballads, Boleros and Blues Vol 1, is a 1990 live date with a heavy nod to Latin America while Goodbye Pork Pie Hat is a recent studio session that cooks.

For Ballads Blues and Boleros Vol 1, Escalera assembled an experienced and adaptable group that included in-demand pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs, bassist Phil Bowler and drummer Wade Barnes. The quartet navigates the live set well with worldly cuts such as "African Flower" (featuring a delicate percussion and flute), the breezy "Ode to Sweetness" and piano/sax tour de force "Didn't Know" as the most intriguing. True to its title, also included are the swinging "New Blues," that is a forum for each band member to display their first rate improv skills and the ballad "When I Think of Her Name." Unfortunately, the CD suffers from a "live" recording technique that has trouble handling some of the highs, but if you can get past this, there is much here to delight.

Mario Escalera
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat
Phoenix

With more than just a tip of his own Lester Young pork pie to Charles Mingus, Escalera's new studio recording features bassist Reggie Workman, who in top form, helps define a focused session that has the leader spreading his tenoric wings. "Mingus Thoughts" begins with an extended Workman intro that uses time to its advantage in finding a groove before the sweet trombone of Clifford Adams picks up the melody and takes over. Whether comping to join the inventive rhythm section that also includes drummer Rudy Walker or enchanting with inventive solos, pianist Bob Neloms is a session linchpin. Escalera makes good use of his sextet's added brass that also includes trumpeter Oliver Beener to create quite interesting voicings, the three horns often blending in sectional synchrony. Vocalist Art Jenkins presents a powerfully soulful interpretation of the classic title cut's Rahsaan Roland Kirk lyric with Neloms beautifully setting the pace before backing an interpretive tenor that matches Jenkins' voice in body and character. "Samba for K.D." is a quick stepping return to Latin rhythms that has Walker and Workman keeping each player on their toes as each in turn prove equal to the task. With both these releases, Escalera shows that he is a gifted composer and a varied capable player whether he swings with a full tone or plays a bit more out.


Visit Mario Escalera on the web at www.mariojazz.com .


Shop

More Articles

Read Duke Ellington on Storyville Records Multiple Reviews Duke Ellington on Storyville Records
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 20, 2017
Read Lee Morgan On Music Matters Multiple Reviews Lee Morgan On Music Matters
by Greg Simmons
Published: March 6, 2017
Read Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago Multiple Reviews Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 21, 2017
Read New, Notable and Nearly Missed Multiple Reviews New, Notable and Nearly Missed
by Phil Barnes
Published: January 25, 2017
Read Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas Multiple Reviews Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas
by Doug Collette
Published: January 14, 2017
Read Weekertoft Hits Its Stride… Multiple Reviews Weekertoft Hits Its Stride…
by John Eyles
Published: January 7, 2017
Read "Jon Irabagon: Inaction is an Action & Behind the Sky" Multiple Reviews Jon Irabagon: Inaction is an Action & Behind the Sky
by Doug Collette
Published: May 1, 2016
Read "Three New Releases from Peter Kuhn" Multiple Reviews Three New Releases from Peter Kuhn
by Dave Wayne
Published: August 4, 2016
Read "Three saxophonists very different paths since "Propagations"" Multiple Reviews Three saxophonists very different paths since...
by John Eyles
Published: November 23, 2016
Read "Five New From Konvoj Records" Multiple Reviews Five New From Konvoj Records
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 16, 2016
Read "Duke Ellington on Storyville Records" Multiple Reviews Duke Ellington on Storyville Records
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 20, 2017
Read "Montreux Through The Decades: Jazz Recordings, Part One" Multiple Reviews Montreux Through The Decades: Jazz Recordings, Part One
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 27, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!