San Francisco-area trombonist Wayne Wallace is known for his Grammy-nominated forays into Afro-Cuban music, and on the surface, To Hear From There is another Latin jazz album. But mixed with the danceable, percussion-heavy rhythms and exuberant melodies, with a touch of melancholy, are complex, improvised solos that would delight even a jazz purist.
The improvised give-and-take between pianist Murray Low and percussionist Michael Spiro, at the beginning of Tito Puente's classic "Philadelphia Mambo," is as angular and free-sounding as any advanced bop solo, while Wallace's growling, bottom-heavy yet quite melodic improvisations on most of the tracksparticularly his own "Descarga en Blue" and J.J. Johnson's "Lament"are like tone poems that wind around the main melody with the facility of any bop trombone master. His own unique sound is a cross between such Cuban masters of the instrument as Generoso Jimenez and modern day proponents like Curtis Fuller.
Bassist David Belove's imaginative yet logical flights bring a modern sensibility to traditional folk tunes like "Ogguere," and a tinge of rock to originals like "Le Escuela." Meanwhile, Low, with his Jaki Byard-like genre-crossing and cerebral playing, shines on "Bebo Ya Liego" and the trombone-heavy "Serafina Del Caribe," where Wallace is joined by three other practitioners of the horn.
Having penned six out of the eleven pieces, Wallace's compositional skill is also on display, although it is sub-par to his superior instrumental musicianship as his melodies, despite differences in time signatures, are somewhat similar, tending to blend into one another.
The quintet's heartbeat is the dual percussion of Spiro and drummer Paul van Wageningen, who provide flawless rhythmic support, occasionally taking solo honors. Cuban vocalist Bobi Cespedes adds flavor of authenticity, with her song "El Manicero" accompanied by Low's classically influenced piano, while Kenny Washington - Vocals's scatting and smooth tenor bring a swinging touch to Juan Tizol's "Perdido."
With its handsomely designed mini LP package, immaculately mastered sound and combination of Latin rhythms and creative improvisations Wallace has created a delightful album of Afro-Cuban music that, despite its occasional compositional monotony, is a highly enjoyable and rewarding record.
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:
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.
A young artist exhibits his work for the first time. An art critic is in attendance. The critic says, "would you like my opinion on your work?" "Yes," says the artist. "It's worthless," says the critic. The artist replies "I know, but tell me anyway."