322

Miami Saxophone Quartet: Midnight Rumba

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Several things help set the Miami Saxophone Quartet apart from comparable groups: one, the brilliantly textured charts, most of them written by Ed Calle or Gary Lindsay; two, the emphasis on Latin and Hispanic motifs and melodies, epitomized by Calle's three-movement Iberia Suite; and three, the use of percussion on three selections, guest artist Arturo Sandoval on trumpet, flugelhorn and piano, and vocalist Jon Secada on his own composition, "Angel. Midnight Rumba, the third album by the MSQ, celebrates Latin culture and tradition through song, but not exclusively, as there is room as well for Ralph Burns' jazz standard "Early Autumn (featuring Sandoval's flugel), James Taylor's contemporary folk song "Benjamin, and the Gershwin brothers' "My Ship, smartly arranged for the quartet by Pete McGuiness.

The album opens on a fiery note as the MSQ eagerly devours a steaming bowl of Calle's tantalizing, Afro-Cuban-based "Rice and Beans, helped along by percussionists Richard Bravo and Lee Levin. Besides Calle (tenor sax) and Lindsay (alto), the other members of the quartet are Gary Keller (soprano, tenor) and Mike Brignola (baritone). The tempo slows for "Angel, whose lovely melody is enhanced by Sandoval's lithe muted trumpet and impaired by a nearly incomprehensible lyric.

The Iberia Suite, inspired, writes Calle, by "the rich history, beauty and traditions of Spain, begins with "Midnight Rumba, depicting the sultry atmosphere of the streets of Madrid, which come to life at midnight, and continues with the "sonorous serenity of "Siesta before sketching a musical portrait of the city and people of "Pamplona, site of the annual running of the bulls. "I hope, writes Calle, "that the listener will hear conversations among participants and observers, step into a tavern for some 'tapas' and a glass of wine, watch a couple dance flamenco, sense the awesome power of the charging bulls, and feel the exhilaration of a successful run. A tall order, but Calle and the MSQ come close.

The tumult of "Pamplona precedes the lyrical "Benjamin (performed by the quartet alone), "Early Autumn, and two well-known works by Dizzy Gillespie, "A Night in Tunisia, on which Sandoval not only plays trumpet but introduces the piece with an improvised piano solo while the percussionists turn up the heat, and "Con Alma, a feature for Keller's supple tenor, adeptly underlined by bassist Chuck Bergeron. "Autumn is a gem, with the saxophones weaving richly harmonic sound patterns through and around Sandoval's expressive flugel. The graceful "Ship, scored originally for McGuiness's New York Trombone Conspiracy, is ably manned by the quartet alone, as is the late Astor Piazzolla's buoyant tango "Bordel 1900, which neatly seals the package.

Another well-earned triumph for the MSQ, which stares down these formidable charts without uneasiness or pause and handily nails every note. For lovers of the saxophone quartet, a rich and flavorful banquet.

Visit the Miami Saxophone Quartet on the web.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read A Night Walking Through Mirrors CD/LP/Track Review A Night Walking Through Mirrors
by Barry Witherden
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jondo CD/LP/Track Review Jondo
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jazz Flute Traditions CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Flute Traditions
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Nerve Dance CD/LP/Track Review Nerve Dance
by John Sharpe
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Déjà Vu CD/LP/Track Review Déjà Vu
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts CD/LP/Track Review Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 20, 2017
Read "My Picture" CD/LP/Track Review My Picture
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 13, 2017
Read "EE-YA-GI (Stories)" CD/LP/Track Review EE-YA-GI (Stories)
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 19, 2017
Read "History Of The Lisbon Chaplaincy" CD/LP/Track Review History Of The Lisbon Chaplaincy
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 13, 2017
Read "Live" CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Crossing" CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "The Duo - Live!" CD/LP/Track Review The Duo - Live!
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 2, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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