The future of big bands, it seems, may be trending southward. Exhibit A, submitted in 2014, was the superb SpokFrevo Orquestra from Brazil, and now comes the similarly impressive Carrera Quinta Big Band from Bogota, Colombia, of all places. Yes, amigos, it's clear that big-band jazz is alive and well south of the Equator. More than that, it encompasses a unique new perspective that interweaves the best of two worlds: contemporary American jazz and traditional harmonies and rhythms from South America, in this case the Andean region of Colombia.
Carrera Quinta, formed as a quintet, is the brainchild of composer / arranger / guitarist Javier Perez Sandoval and composer / pianist Francy Montalvo who decided to enlarge the group's membership from five to nineteen for its ambitious second recording. To say that was a smart move would be to greatly understate the case. This is a sharp and well-knit ensemble, at home in every setting and able to stand its ground with any band, north or south. Sandoval is its salient mainspring, having written and arranged four of the seven exemplary numbers on this album, while Montalvo composed and arranged the lovely "Elegia de un Sentimiento," on which her tasteful piano is showcased. Completing the bill of fare are Doris Zapata's incisive "No Voy a Quedarme" and Sebastian Solari's buoyant and picturesque "Rio Cali."
Besides Montalvo and Sandoval, whose nimble guitar is out front on his splendid compositions "Take a Deep Breath," "Modal Step" and "El Intensos," Carrera Quinto's soloists, each of whom seems to have listened closely to and learned well from his North American peers, include trumpeters Pavel Zuzaeta and Orlando Batanga, alto saxophonists Rafael Sandoval (featured on the impulsive "Little Step") and Cesar Medina, tenor William Rojas and drummer Pedro Acosta who governs the band's sure-handed rhythm section. A decisive triumph for Carrera Quinta and South American jazz, impaired only by the album's LP-like forty-two minute playing time. On the other hand, almost none of those minutes is misused.
Take a Deep Breath; No Voy a Quedarme; Little Step; Elegia de un Sentimiento; Modal Step; Rio Cali; El Intensos.
Ricardo Jaramillo: conductor; Javier Perez Sandoval: composer, arranger, electric guitar; Francy Montalvo: composer, piano; Carlos Acosta: trumpet; Fernando Pena: trumpet; Pavel Zuzaeta: trumpet; Orlando Barreda Batanga: trumpet; Cesar Medina: alto, soprano sax; Rafael Sandoval: alto sax; William Rojas: tenor sax; Julio Panadero: tenor sax; Adalber Gaviria: baritone sax; Dario Montoya: flute; Cristhian Hernandez: trombone; Diego Gomez: trombone; Andres Guzman: trombone; Mauricio Patino: trombone; Daniel Montoya: electric bass; Pedro Acosta: drums.