Taking exceptional advantage of the octet format, tenor saxophonist Paul Carlon's sophomore effort as a leader, Other Tongues, presents his wide-ranging compositional skills in the context of a lively, Latin-based showcase. Rhumba-tap dancer Max Pollak adds additional rhythmic spice; the exceptional vocal stylings of Ileana Santamaria lend a beauty to this otherwise fairly muscular presentation. Carlon has arranged many of these pieces to highlight the powerful brass voicings that two saxophones, a trumpet and two trombones can produce. A very adaptable rhythm sectionDave Ambrosio (bass) and William "Beaver Bausch (drums)allows for a wide stylistic latitude.
Where the opener, "Lucid Dreamer, is fairly straight-ahead, well-composed modern jazz, things get more interesting with "Rumbatapestry. Here, all stops are pulled out as Pollak taps out the rhythm, alternately segueing the piece from jazz to Latin. Carlon's tenor duets exceedingly well with Pollak's tapestry before Santamaria's vocals lift the proceedings to another energy level. The lovely Strayhorn composition "Smada is an elegant exotic diversion that artfully combines flute with Latin brass and Santamaria's vocal.
"Street Beat (featuring the husky-voiced veteran tenor player Buddy Terry) and the expertly orchestrated "A Certain Slant of Light are bluesy digressions that lead into the Latin dance party rhythms of both "Boogie Down Broder and "Extraordinary Rendition. A soothing African feel, courtesy of Carlon's thumb piano and Santamaria's chanting, intros "The Spirit Calls, but the intensity quickly ratchets up to a feverish pitch.
Dave Smith's trumpet and John Stenger's piano work wonderfully together to make "Portals a relaxing yet complex jazzy journey before the Cuban salsa delight "Clave 66 parlays intricate rhythms with flute and piano to close things out. With Other Tongues, Carlon achieves an exciting meld of jazz and Latin with a dramatic musical ebb and flow.
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).