Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

427

Wayne Wallace: The Nature of the Beat

Jeff Dayton-Johnson By

Sign in to view read count
Among the highlights of Kat Parra's fine recent Azúcar de Amor (Patois, 2008) is the trombone and arrangements of Wayne Wallace. It is therefore gratifying to have this new record led by the San Franciscan. But while Parra's record comes across as a superbly executed homage to Latin music, Wallace's sounds like an idiosyncratically funky variant of the thing itself.

Wallace's repertoire on The Nature of the Beat stakes out some unconventional territory and considerable breadth, but more than a few listeners will feel quite at home here, with familiar musical references to Ray Charles, the Miles Davis Nonet and Earth, Wind and Fire. The set list might suggest a welcoming party for music lovers of a certain age, and the music here admits that interpretation. But while this is largely a festive record, it is also an exceedingly professional and meticulously conceived one, the bedrock of which is a profound knowledge of the Afro-Cuban musical tradition.

All of the numbers here are cast or recast in an Afro-Cuban mode, making even somewhat overripe choices like "Fascinatin' Rhythm" (on the jazz side) or "Bésame Mucho" (on the Latin side) sound fresh. Superb jazz or Latin jazz arrangements tend to overlay a strictly Latin percussion foundation; and most cuts, even the more intense ones, are taken at a comfortable pace. Most tracks feature an irresistible montuno—a propulsive, trance-like section, over which vocalists and instrumentalists improvise, frequently undergirded by Spanish-language versions of the lyric ("suéltame—el corazón—amor!" sings the chorus on "Unchain My Heart"). Wallace's supple playing on both trombone and the rare Wagner tuba brass instrument are highlighted to great effect throughout: liquid and tender on "Bésame Mucho," probing and insistent on "That Walk."

This is a big group of musicians, and noteworthy contributions tend to accumulate rather quickly. Pianist Murray Low plays with an elegance that would suit Cuba's venerable Orquesta Aragón. The joyously anachronistic synthesizer lines of Frank Martin add a dollop of '70s credibility throughout. The most valuable player award must go to Ray Stallings, whose baritone sax solo on the marvelous "Jeru" must grapple with the specter of Gerry Mulligan, and whose vocal (!) on "Unchain My Heart" goes mano a mano with no less than the Ray Charles version.

The Nature of the Beat is not perfect—a too-mellow reading of Herbie Hancock's "Come Running to Me" is pleasant but unconvincing, for example—but somehow manages to be learned, funky and big-hearted all at once. Wallace and his band mates provide dizzying virtuosity and create breathtaking musical hybrids, having fun all the while.

Track Listing: Mis Amigos; Jeru; Serpentine Fire; Fascinatin' Rhythm; ¡No EstáComplicado! Bésame Mucho; Come Running to Me; Unchain My Heart; That Walk; Oshumaré.

Personnel: Wayne Wallace: trombone, Wagner tuba; Louis Fasman: trumpet, flugelhorn; Melecio Magdaluyo: alto saxophone, flute; Ron Stallings: tenor and baritone saxophones, vocals; Aaron Lington: baritone saxophone; Murray Low: piano; Frank Martin: piano, synthesizer; David Yamasaki: guitar; David Belove: bass; John Santos: congas, percussion; Michael Spiro: timbales, percussion; Paul van Wageningen: trap drums; Alexa Weber Morales: vocals; Karen Aczon: vocals; Larry Batiste: vocals; David Chaidez: vocals; Jodene Noble: vocals; Claytoven Richardson: vocals; Sakai: vocals; Sheryl Lynn Thomas: vocals; Orlando Torriente: vocals; Jeanie Tracy: vocals.

Title: The Nature of the Beat | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Patois Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Bricks CD/LP/Track Review Bricks
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 17, 2017
Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read "Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs" CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 27, 2017
Read "Up and Coming" CD/LP/Track Review Up and Coming
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: January 29, 2017
Read "The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke" CD/LP/Track Review The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 16, 2017
Read "Donora Autumn" CD/LP/Track Review Donora Autumn
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 29, 2017
Read "Möbius Strip" CD/LP/Track Review Möbius Strip
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 11, 2017
Read "Mu'U" CD/LP/Track Review Mu'U
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 6, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!