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Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet: To Hear From There

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Trombonist/composer Wayne Wallace and his music could probably be characterized by any number of clichéd phrases, but why use a cliché when the truth will do. The truth is that Wayne Wallace's To Hear From There is a far better record than its Grammy-nominated predecessor, ¡Bien Bien! (Patois, 2009), and that's saying a lot. Wallace's greatest gift to the music on To Hear From There is that he approaches it respectfully. Wallace, an American man of African ancestry, performs Latin jazz as though it's his birthright. Not in the sense that he sounds as though he feels entitled to anything, but rather that he sounds like a man who has discovered a connection that defies choice.

More than just a Latin jazz album To Hear From There includes elements of African music, jazz, and just a touch of funk. Wallace is not alone on this project. To Hear From There is credited to the Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet, with vocalists Kenny Washington - Vocals and Bobi Céspedes sitting in as special guest performers, amongst others.

Washington adds a nice touch to Juan Tizol's "Perdido." He's a dynamic singer and he fits right in with the music. And speaking of the music, it is executed so beautifully that, at times, the group sounds like one grand instrument, the music and vocals together offering a complete performance. Murray Low 's piano work, along with David Belove's steady bass anchor, gives life to "Los Gatos," setting the tone for where the music should go; each of the rest of the musicians building on the piano and bass foundation. Gilberto Valdes' "Ogguere" offers some funk, with the melody sounding, at times, like Nina Simone's remake of Aretha Franklin's "Save Me." It's fun; it's funky; and it's a good representation of the rhythms that African and Latin music share in common.

"The Peanut Vendor" showcases Céspedes's rich and emotive tone, as she takes the Moises Simon composition into her capable hands, taking the music straight to Cuba. While "Serafina Del Caribe" is a collaborative trombone effort, featuring Wallace along with guests Jeff Cressman and his daughter Natalie, along with Dave Martell, "Lament"—a song written by one of the titans of jazz trombone, J.J. Johnson—gives the leader an opportunity to showcase his own prowess on his instrument. Wallace's performance is a true lament, sounding as though he's trying to push words that convey sentiments of longing and despair out of his horn, while members of the quintet provide a Latin balance to his straight-ahead approach.

For all that To Hear From There represents musically—jazz, African rhythms, funk, Mambo, Cha-cha-cha, Cuban Son, Timba—it is one thing above all others: art. You'd need to hear it to believe it.

Track Listing: La Ecuela; Serafina Del Caribe; Wayne Wallace; Perdido; Los Gatos; Descarga En Blue; Ogguere (Soul of the Earth); Lament; The Peanut Vendor (El Manicero); Yemaya (The Seven Seas); ¡Bebo Ya Llego!; Philadelphia.

Personnel: Wayne Wallace: trombone, Wagner's tuba; Murray Low: piano; David Belove: bass; Michael Spiro: percussion; Paul van Wageningen: trap drums; Kenny Washington: vocals; Bobi Céspedes: vocals; Jeff Cressman: trombone; Natalie Cressman: trombone; Dave Martell: trombone.

Title: To Hear From There | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Patois Records

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