Bronx-born trumpeter Ray Vega brings some hefty credentials to the forefront, after having played with the crème de la crème of Latin jazz stars such as the late Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, and others. On his third recording as a leader, the trumpeter and his musical associates enliven the Latin jazz genre via a roots-oriented focus and a recognizably modish perspective.
Vega and top-flight alto saxophonist Bobby Porcelli supply a powerful frontline attack, while the sextet investigates salsa, jazzy choruses, two-bar rhythms (clave), and more. The soloists’ melodies guide the rhythm section through creative spins on Duke Jordan’s “Flight To Jordan” and Charlie Parker’s “Yardbird Suite.” Vega’s composition titled “Descarga” references a jam session mindset synonymous with Afro Cuban dance music. And as many of us would surmise, the percussionists execute a series of hot n’ spicy grooves along with pianist Igor Atalita’s flair for integrating Latin techniques into progressive jazz stylizations. But one of the most striking factors here relates to the ensemble’s willingness to meld conventional practices with forward thinking treatments, as evidenced on pieces such as the artists’ spiritual yet alternatively up-tempo reconfiguration of Trane’s “A Love Supreme.” Overall, this entourage could serve as a guiding light for a sometimes staid Latin jazz scene, thanks to their finely honed methodologies and ineffaceable resourcefulness. Recommended!!