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Aguanko: Pattern Recognition

Chris M. Slawecki By

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Aguanko's composer, conguero and bandleader Dr. Alberto Nacif first stepped into the worlds of Latin and Afro-Cuban percussion alongside Cuban conga/bongo master Armando Peraza, the pillar of percussion fire who blazed throughout the Santana band's first decade. On Pattern Recognition, Nacif teams with another legendary Cuban percussionist: José "Pepe" Espinosa, who jumps in on timbales, guiro and bongos, and doubles as producer of Aguanko's third release.

Aguanko's albums consistently run with the humming, precision consistency of an exquisitely tuned timepiece, and Pattern Recognition is no exception. The opening "Señor Smoke" (mambo) organically blossoms from its introductory bass line, trailing piano, percussion, bass and drum lines all in perfect balance, with horns emerging like flowers blooming off of their rhythmic vines. Muted trumpet sketches a classic Latin big band sound into the subsequent title track (also a mambo).

"Doctor's Orders" (mambo) spotlights extended Latin jazz reflections from pianist Rick Roe and trombone player Christopher Smith, and winks at Dr. Nacif's "other" profession as a family practitioner who earned his MD from Wayne State University and served as personal physician to Detroit's esteemed trumpeter Marcus Belgrave. "Metaphorically Speaking" (mambo) burns with even more jazz fever from exhilarating trumpet and trombone solos (and is curiously annotated as Nacif's nod to Charlie Parker's incendiary romp through the Tin Pan Alley classic "[Back Home Again in] Indiana").

In fact, it's tempting to wonder if Pattern Recogntion runs a little too smoothly. Running together five mambos out of the first six tracks (no matter how excellently conceived and executed) can create a sonic sameness that sparkles and shines but rolls past without pause or differentiation. Even so, it's a comfortable glide along colorful, beautiful sights and sounds through the kaleidoscopic vision of southeastern Michigan's beacon of Latin jazz heat and light.

Track Listing: Señor Smoke; Pattern Recognition; Re-Vision; Doctor’s Orders; Los Niños; Metaphorically Speaking; Mojo Mohito; Noche Y Luna; Corazon Suave; Late Night Religion.

Personnel: Alberto Nacif: composer, congas; Jose "Pepe" Espinosa: timbales, guiro, bongo; Patrick Prouty: bass; Rick Roe: piano; Russell Miller: saxophones, flute; Anthony Stanco: trumpet, flugelhorn; Christopher Smith: trombone.

Title: Pattern Recognition | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Self Produced

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