195

Caribbean Jazz Project: New Horizons

Ed Kopp By

Sign in to view read count
Reedman Paquito D’Rivera and steel drummer Andy Narell recently quit the Caribbean Jazz Project, but founder Dave Samuels (vibes) didn't abandon his concept. Samuels convinced flutist Dave Valentin and guitarist Steve Khan to form a new Project. The revamped lineup just released its first album, and it's a very nice outing. New Horizons conjures images of pristine beaches, tropical breezes and swaying palms.

Samuels was wise to switch instrumentation when D’Rivera and Narell split the band. No way he could have replaced those two. Besides, the guitar-vibes combination is a sublime one, and Khan and Samuels are a simpatico pair. Having caught Valentin once in a club setting, I know that he’s a killer musician. Still, his solo releases have been too smooth-jazzy for my tastes.

No such concerns here. The 10 tracks on New Horizons are accessible but substantial, and equal credit goes to the drummerless supporting cast: bassist John Benitez, conga-bongo master Richie Flores and timbale player Robert Vilera. Flores and Vilera generate enough tropical heat to melt all the snow in my driveway, and Samuels delivers one of his finest performances on record.

It would have been nice to hear more of Khan’s guitar, but that's my only complaint. Khan’s three compositions are the most intriguing on the album. Especially good is "Charanga, Si Si," an eight-minute tune with a catchy, intricate melody, percolating rhythms and an unexpected call-and-response vocal "coro. Wouldn’t think any band could make "A Night in Tunisia" sound new, but Samuels leads the way on an alluring fast-paced treatment. Alec Wilder’s "Moon and Sand" offers a serene change of pace. Of Samuel’s four compositions, the best is "Over the Horizon," a tune colored by Samuel’s intense marimba playing and Valentin’s gorgeous flute. And just listen to Samuel’s fiery mallet work on the CD’s polyrhythmic closer, "Rompiendo El Hielo en 2000." Percussionists Flores and Vilera seem to inspire Samuels to new heights.

If you can’t afford a winter trip to the Caribbean, New Horizons will take you there in spirit.


Title: New Horizons | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Concord Music Group


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Whispers on the Wind CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Heptagon CD/LP/Track Review Heptagon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2017
Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "By A Thread" CD/LP/Track Review By A Thread
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 18, 2017
Read "Dancing Our Way To Death" CD/LP/Track Review Dancing Our Way To Death
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 16, 2016
Read "WashAshore" CD/LP/Track Review WashAshore
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 30, 2017
Read "Sabiduria/Wisdom" CD/LP/Track Review Sabiduria/Wisdom
by James Nadal
Published: April 21, 2017
Read "Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31" CD/LP/Track Review Buer: Book Of Angels Volume 31
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Momentum" CD/LP/Track Review Momentum
by Dave Wayne
Published: November 18, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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