Bobby Watson and Brian Lynch stand out on this Latin jam session led by drummer Marlon Simon. It's his second album, made up largely of the leader's own compositions. Younger brother Edward Simon guests on three tracks, while youngest brother Michael guests on the two that he composed. Marlon Simon, who was born in Venezuela, successfully combines equal portions of Latin music with jazz music to form Latin jazz. The essential ingredients are the swing, the loose improvisation, and the rhythmic groove.
While it's true that Latin music can be monotonous and boring through its use of repetition, the spirit of any performance depends on the artists themselves. Simon's band, the Nagual Spirits, add spontaneity to the session through their freewheeling jams. Homages to pianist Thelonious Monk and conguero Patato Valdes remind the band of their high standards. These large shoes are filled considerably well; particularly on Simon's tone poems to Mozambique and India. "Sandra Malandra" trembles with African rhythms and alternates with swinging, common time patterns. It's the kind of excitement that Lalo Schifrin has pumped into many of his film scores. The result is a hot jam with an emphasis on percussion. "Belleza India" contrasts as a sultry alto saxophone ballad, and "Clear to Take Off" summarizes the program, as this final tune marches through the streets of Rio with the spotlight on Lynch and Simon. The Nagual Spirits offer enjoyable Latin jazz with a little something for everyone.
Track Listing: Rumba a la Patato; Songo pa Monk; Humble and Innocent; Ericka; Something for Carol; Easy Mood; Sandra Malandra; Belleza India; Clear to Take Off.Collective
Personnel: Marlon Simon- drum set, batas, timbales, percussion; Edward Simon, Luis Perdomo- piano; John Benitez, Andy Gonzalez- bass; Bobby Watson- alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Peter Brainin- tenor saxophone; Brian Lynch, Michael Simon- trumpet; Roberto Quintero- congas, bongo, guiro.