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Mark Weinstein: Timbasa

Dan Bilawsky By

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It's not uncommon to hear about an alto player moving to tenor, or vice versa, in an attempt to grow musically, develop a different sound or avoid getting stale. Likewise, plenty of people branch out within the woodwind or brass families, like a saxophonist learning to double on flute or a trumpet player doubling on valve trombone. Yes, these things do happen fairly often but you rarely hear about masterful jazz trombonists switching to flute. Mark Weinstein is the exception.

Weinstein, while playing trombone in the 1960s, worked with the cream of the crop, straddling the Latin and jazz communities. He worked with everybody from Chick Corea and Eddie Palmieri to Clark Terry and Charles Mingus. Though he retreated from the music scene in the early '70s, earned a Ph.D in Philosophy and became a college professor, music must have been on his mind at times. Eventually, he returned to the music scene and was reborn as a flautist. Weinstein began recording a string of strong and musically diverse albums in the late 1990s and he keeps moving forward.

Timbasa features Weinstein performing some killer Cuban jazz with an exceptional band. Axel Tosca Laugart lights up the music from behind the piano and Panagiotis Andreou has a firm presence on bass. The material chosen for this album, much like the music from Weinstein's Con Alma (Jazzheads, 2007), is a mixture of Latin-ized arrangements of jazz classics and new compositions. While that recording features flute, bass, piano, drums and percussion, Timbasa benefits from having two percussionists, with Pedrito Martinez and Oguardo Diaz—alongside drummer/percussionist Mauricio Herrera—creating some rumbling and tumbling patterns, and bringing some Latin fire into the mix.

While a few of the classics, like "Watermelon Man," already fit well within this genre, Weinstein takes some other tunes by the likes of Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter and reshapes them to fit his own vision. Weinstein and Laugart both get plenty of solo space on the album and Andreou bridges the gap between these two men and the percussion section. The bassist also gets some room to let loose and his explosive bass and vocals on the introduction to "Caravan" are a treat. Some of the most heart-pounding moments on the album take place when the pitched instruments provide simple vamps and the three-man percussion wrecking crew is left alone to create a storm beneath them. With the exception of the Middle-Eastern tinged mysticism of "Kavaklari Cubano," this music is high-energy party jazz and Weinstein always seems to find the right balance between the sound of a loose jam and that of a tight Latin unit.

Track Listing: Milestones; Timbasa; Footprints; Watermelon Man; A Ernesto; Caravan; Encuentro; Kavaklari Cubano; Just Another Guajira.

Personnel: Mark Weinstein: concert, alto and bass flute; Axel Tosca Laugart: piano; Panagiotis Andreou: electric bass and vocals; Mauricio Herrera: drums, timbales, guiro; Oguardo Diaz: bongos and batá; Pedrito Martinez: congas, timbales, batá and percussion.

Title: Timbasa | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Jazzheads

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