Puerto Rican trombonist Ruben Caban makes a splash with the Latin jazz shaded Shafted, his first own-name album. The disc is full of grit and swagger and offers a host of original compositions sure to shake them bones. A professor of jazz trombone at Florida International University as well as Miami-Dade and Broward colleges, Caban is a seasoned professional sharing the stage with some of the best musicians in the world.
The album has already received acclaim and won the Bronze Medal at the 2018 Global Music Awardsit was the only Latin jazz album selected for the finals. Caban's music is performed in varying formats from a quartet to a larger ensemble. Each lineup packs a punch and delivers engaging sounds.
While the music showcases six of Caban's compositions, the repertoire is bookended by two cover tunes, beginning with a lively and percussive version of the Bronislau Kaper standard "Invitation," highlighting Rodolfo Zuniga on drums, Diego Camacho on timbales and Erick Enrique on congas, with the leader and pianist Antulio Mora providing solo moments of note.
The music continues in perky fashion on the leader's original, "Shafts of Sarcasm," with Francisco Dimas providing a burst on the trumpet and Ismael Vergara playing a supportive baritone before the octet rallies towards a finish. The trombonist shows a lighter side on the lovely ballad of "Vozaconfusion," and does much the same on "What About You and Me," another mellow tune.
The remaining charts are all shoulder-moving numbers with the originals "That One Tune" and "Struttin' to a Groove" featuring exquisite solos from Caban. The set closes on a less percussive note with a rendition of Tom Harrell's "Hope Street." As debut albums go, this is one excellent recording with plenty of special momentsand no one getting the titular shaft.
Invitation; Shafts of Sarcasm; E.T. ; Vozaconfusion; What About You and Me; That One Tune; Struttin' To A Groove; Hope Street.