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The Paul Carlon Octet: Other Tongues

Dan McClenaghan By

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On two-thirds of this masterful debut from tenor saxophonist/flutist Paul Carlon and his octet, things get deep into world rhythms, with Afro-Cuban grooves, some rhumba, a bit of cha cha, some Latin-infused Ellingtonian swing and Yoruban chants, Cuban timba, Colombian porro and Max Pollack's rumbatap (on "Rumbatapestry"), along with gorgeously lilting vocals by Ileana Santamaria (daughter of Cuban percussionist Ramon "Mongo" Santamaria) on "Rumbatapestry" and "Smada."

But they also bring things up from the Caribbean with "Street Beat," featuring a guest spot by tenor saxphonist Buddy Terry (Ray Charles, Horace Silver, Count Basie, Art Blakey) trading tenor saxophone solos with Carlon. Alto sax man Anton Denner also makes his contributions, sounding like an Oliver Nelson/Eric Dolphy workout; Terry takes it out there, while Carlon and Denner counterpoint him in a tighter, more mainstream mode.

"Extraordinary Rendition," a fresh and original bit of music-making, showcases the group's freewheeling dynamics: the two trombones build a solid foundation behnd a flute/alto/trumpet front line and the flat slap percussion of Max Pollack's rumbatap sound.

"The Spirit Calls" features Santamira's lovely voice in front of Carlon's brittle marimba-like mbira percussion, sounding at first very Old World, before undergoing a modern transformation. Carlon's tenor sax solo sounds dark and gritty in front of the propulsive rhythm, giving way to a Ryan Keberle's trombone turn, which builds from a tight and terse beginning to an eloquent and assertive statement—followed by Santamaria belting out a second vocal turn.

The mix of styles hold together well on this cohesive, high-energy set. Other Tongues proves itself an auspicious debut, weaving together vibrant world music sounds with hard-edged modern jazz.

Visit Paul Carlon on the web.


Track Listing: Lucid Dreaming; Rumbatapestry; Smada; Street Beat; A Certain Slant of Light; Boogie Down Broder; Extraordinary Rendition; The Spirit Calls; Portals; Clave 66.

Personnel: Paul Carlon: flute, mbira; Anoton Denner: alto saxophone, flute; Dave Smith: trumpet; Ryan Keberle: trombone; Mike Fahie: trombone; John Stenger: piano; Dave Ambrosio: bass; William "Beaver" Bausch: drumset; Max Pollak: rumbatap (2,7); Jeana Santamaria: vocals (2,3,8); Buddy Terry: tenor saxophone (4).

Title: Other Tongues | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Deep Tone Records


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