Trombonist/composer Papo Vazquez brings in his Mighty Pirates Troubadours for another musical adventure full of scintillating melodies, energetic rhythms and heady grooves all of which make for a wonderful album. Not content to stay within one genre, Vazquez blends and mixes them with the skill of a wizard. The styles slide into place easily and compactly, propelled by as accomplished a bunch of musicians as any band leader would love to have.
Vazquez not only has a fertile imagination as a composer, he is an exquisite trombonist, drenching his playing with verve, pathos and sublime feeling. He kicks it off in fine style on "Manga Larga" with the percussion dancing in and the horns evoking the heady melody. His tone is warm, as it gleans the essence and then goes on to flesh the music. Vazquez stamps his signature with deft moves that course through the veins of the tune, taking it out just a little bit with a smear. Willie Williams is a hardy tenor saxophonist, mellifluous even as he deepens the pulse, with effervescent pianist Rick Germanson adding strong thematic statements to make this a downright delight.
A 15-piece band takes the stage for "Oasis," which is described as "world music jazz." The description is apt, as Vazquez feeds stylistic motifs to capture a wide spectrum of sound and mood. Strings are plucked, cymbals wash over and into the brass lines, and the trombone raises its voice in cry and plea as the blues find a home. The tempo burns with a burnished charge, even as Akua Dixon's Quartet Indigo adds a seductive adjunct with strings.
"Igor's Mail" explores different parallels. Jazz finds a nest in the stabbing lines of the trombone before Quartet Indigo introduces a classical air. The dynamics have changed but the magnetic core is still a force. The whole coalesces into a harmonious whole driven by the dynamics of invention.
Papo Vazquez is a master craftsman ably abetted by musicians with big hearts.
Track Listing: Manga Larga; Sol Tropical; Danzaon Don Va'zquez; Que Sabes Tu; Psalm 59; City Of Brotherly Love; Oasis; Redemption; San Juan De La Maguana; Igor’s Mail; Verdura De Apio/The Real McCoy; Plena Drumline.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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