Paul Carlon's first recording as a leader of his own octet is a deceptive and intruiging portrait, as well as a highly listenable excursion into the world of the many shades of Latin jazz. Originally from upstate New York, Carlon graduated from Cornell University with a degree in English Literature in 1991 but was determined to make his mark in New York's musical world. Since then he has travelled all over the US and the Caribbean, working with a wide variety of bands and absorbing this experience into his feeling for the many variations of Caribbean and Latin musical forms.
Carlon's octet carries a lot of depth: it features rumbatap pioneer Max Pollak and singer Ileana Santamaria, daugher of the late Mongo Santamaria, as well as two trombones, trumpet, piano, bass and drums. Carlon, who is featured throughout on tenor sax, flute and mbira, also did the arrangements. He opens up "Rumbatapestry" with a very Eddie Harris-ish tenor statement that cooks. The Billy Strayhorn composition "Smada" begins life as a danzón, then shifts into a Columbian porro musical form. I had to look twice since I originally thought that another track had begun with Stenger's fine piano solo.
"Street Beat" brings the one guest appearance of Buddy Terry (former tenor saxophonist for the big bands of Ray Charles, Count Basie and Art Blakey). I guess that should be telling you that this guy knows how to turn on the heat and "street sound" aspect of this tune. Santamaria gets several vocal opportunities and on "The Spirit Calls" summons up Yoruban chants and Afro-Cuban rumba, echoing the Latin music of the 1950s and other traditional styles. "Extroadinary Rendition" is titled correctly, with all hands on deck. The two trombones and trumpet provide the heat, along with Pollak's rumbatap rhythm; the closing "Clave 66" is reminiscent of Habanero bands.
What really makes Other Tongues special is that each track sounds like it's from a different era and Latin variation. I'm sure that I have much more listening time ahead with this album.
Track Listing: Lucid Dreaming; Rumbatapestry; Smada; Steet Beat; A Certain Slant of Light; Boogie Down Broder; Extraodinary Renditions; The Spirit Calls; Portals; Clave 66.
Personnel: Paul Carlon: tenor saxophone, flute, mbira, compositions and arranging; Anton Denner: alto sax, flute; Dave Smith: trumpet; Ryan Keberlie: trombone; Mike Fahie: trombone; John Stenger: piano; Dave Ambrosio: bass; William "Beaver" Bausch: drums; Illeana Santamaria: vocals (2,3,8); Max Pollak: rumbatap (2, 7); Buddy Terry: tenor sax (3).
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.