Dedicated to Tito Puente, Chris Washburne's second recording with his stellar SYOTOS band brings fresh air to a staid genre. The Latin jazz umbrella covers a lot of territory. Washburne's focus is on salsa dance music for its starting point. You can dance to it. Just try to keep still. However, to the salsa formula, the bandleader adds somewhat more complex jazz elements and searing solos. You get the best of both worlds. This is music you can appreciate, while you dance with your partner. Washburne brings both a strong formal education and a world of experience to the forum. His dues-paying days with the orchestras of Eddie Palmieri, Chico O'Farrill and Tito Puente came amid studies for degrees from three respected music schools. A Bachelor of Music degree in classical trombone from the University of Wisconsin, a Master of Music degree in Third Stream studies from the New England Conservatory, and a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from Columbia University served to provide Washburne's foundation. His interest in Latin jazz and salsa provided the fuel.
Washburne's title track contains deep modern jazz harmonic twists. The combination of his formal studies and urban experience afford Washburne the tools to express in a comfortable language. His 7-piece band smokes with authority. Washburne, Walsh and Mathisen comprise an exciting front line, dedicated to lyricism and tonal beauty. Pianist Olsen, along with Swartz, Cherico and Corniel, provide tasteful accompaniment and powerful bursts of passion. Their cohesion comes after five years of weekly workouts at New York's Lower East Side Nuyorican Poet's Café. A working band such as this promotes growth. Washburne's second album speaks well for a hard-working band and its inspired leader.
Track Listing: Titorama; Mamborama; Deep Song; Methane Mambo; The Other Side; New Beginning; Now What?; Caonao; Hong Kong Mambo.
Personnel: Chris Washburne- tenor trombone, bass trombone, tuba, percussion; John Walsh- trumpet; Ole Mathisen- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Barry Olsen- piano, marimba; Harvie Swartz- bass; Vince Cherico- drums; Wilson "Chembo" Corniel- congas, bata; Guests: Ray Vega- trumpet, flugelhorn; Bobby Sanabria- timbales, bata, bongos, hand percussion; Maiken Derno- Korean gong; Renato Thoms- bongos, hand percussion on "Methane Mambo;" Max Pollak- tap dancer on "Now What?"
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.