Trombonist and composer Wayne Wallace knows how to have fun, and on the delightfully upbeat To Hear From There his Latin Jazz Quintet makes that fun leap out of the speakers. The groupGrammy-nominated for 2009's ¡Bien Bien! (Patois Records)is energetic and exceptionally tight. Wallace leads this fine and funky band through a selection of tunes that combine Latin, African and West Coast styles to create a mix of tunes that swings and grooves from start to finish.
Across the album the percussion playing of Paul van Wageningen and Michael Spiro is central to the music's sensuality. The cha-cha-cha of Wallace's "Los Gatos" typifies this centrality, the percussionists and bassist David Belove coming together to underpin the tune with consummate ease and an irresistible groove. Tito Puente's "Philadelphia Mambo" features some fine ensemble playing and soloing from the quintet. This lively arrangement of Puente's tune is dynamic and positive: a great way to end the album.
Two gentler and more reflective tunes demonstrate the band's versatility. Gilberto Valdes' gorgeous ballad "Ogguere (Soul of the Earth)" is treated with great delicacy and empathy by the quintet. This is a lovely performance with Wallace's muted and controlled trombone and Belove's rich, soulful electric bass solos worthy of particular mention. J.J. Johnson's "Lament" is gracefully performed by Wallace, while its impact is heightened by Murray Low's understated piano.
The band is joined by guest trombonists Jeff Cressman, his daughter Natalie Cressman, and Dave Martell for Wallace's "Serafina Del Caribe." This is a genuine "trombone tour-de-force," as Wallace describes it, combining musical styles to create a slinky tune with terrific ensemble horn playing and distinctive solos.
Guest vocalists Kenny Washington - Vocalsalso on ¡Bien Bien!and Bobi Céspedes are both in top form. Washington is smooth as silk on Juan Tizol's "Perdido" while Céspedes' passionate performance of Moises Simon's "The Peanut Vendor" adds a sense of drama to this familiar standard. The two singers are perfectly in tune with the quintet: it's a shame that their appearances are confined to one song each.
To Hear From There is a graceful, joyous album. The Latin Jazz Quintet is a truly soulful outfit and the music conveys an undeniable warmth and humanity: this is a band, and an album, of real quality.
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!;
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:
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