Two decades of working as a highly accomplished trumpeter in Eddie Palmieri's Latin jazz band has culminated for Brian Lynch with this completely ravishing recording alongside his musical mentor. While the name of the group might raise the question of "who's on first?", rest assured that this is an inspired collaboration with the less-celebrated Lynch firmly at the helm. Most of the tunes are his, and the versions of Palmieri's pieces are marked by Lynch's hand. In fact, this album marshals some playing from Palmieri, particularly on the tumbling "The Palmieri Effect," which opens the album with a roar from Palmieri's piano, that I've missed from some recent discs under Palmieri's leadership.
While the program of Simpatico is clearly Latin jazz and Palmieri's salsified McCoy Tynerisms are resplendently prominent throughout, there are lovely selections that wouldn't be expected on a Palmieri album. One example is the Lynch original "Jazz Impromptu," which has a sound you'd expect from a hard-blowing Blue Note session from decades ago. The bop roots in Lynch's original compositions are even evident in a guajira-chacha like "Guajira Dubois," where guest alto saxophonist Phil Woods, hardly a supreme Latin jazzman, brings an interesting bop sensibility to the proceedings.
The seventeen musicians (in addition to the superstar Palmieri) are all playing at the top of their game, bringing out an acute brilliance in Lynch's playing that I've never heard so thrillingly projected. But the biggest surprise among this crowd of talent is the Mexican-American diva Lila Downs. Her vocals have a dusky sensuality and subtle understatement that compels re-visioning just how extroverted a great Latin jazz vocalist need be. Lynch may have revolutionized the already rising career of Downs by showcasing her in a context so far removed from her own recordings, which are deeply rooted in traditional Mexican song.
There's a move afoot in the jazz world to expand the parameters of Latin jazz, with Hilary Noble, Rebecca Cline and Dafnis Prieto among the prime instigators. In his own sweet way, in spite of being less radical conceptually in breaking out of a traditional Latin jazz style than those three musicians, Lynch is triumphantly pushing Latin jazz boundaries. This is a magnificent recording, whatever label you pin on it, and it makes you hope for more Lynch collaborations with his mentor in the near future.
Track Listing: The Palmieri Effect; Que Seria La Vida; Guajira Dubois; Jazz Impromptu; Paginas De Mujer; Slippery; Jazzucar; Tema Para Marissa; Freehands.
Personnel: Brian Lynch: trumpet; Eddie Palmieri: piano; Lila Downs: vocals; Phil Woods: alto saxophone;
Donald Harrison: alto saxophone; Conrad Herwig: trombone; Giovanni Hidalgo: congas;
Dafnis Prieto: drums; other players including Gregory Tardy, Mario Rivera, Boris Kozlov,
Ruben Rodriguez, Luques Curtis, Robby Ameen, Pedro Martinez, Johnny Rivero, Edsel Gomez,
Marvin Diz, Pete Rodriguez.
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.