Long before the "Wonderful Discovery that constitutes the music and the musicians on this CD, Eugene Marlow had discovered Latin music. The muse hit him way back in London, England in the '40s. Jump cut to the '90s and Marlow was listening to Tito Puente. From then on, there were quite a few Latin bands that came his way as a member of the Milt Hinton Jazz Perspectives Concert Series committee at Baruch College. Among them were the Latin-Jazz All Stars, Bobby Sanabria's Quarteto Aché and SYOTOS.
Marlow has composed jazz, classical and Latin music for soloists, chamber ensembles and big bands. On the compositions here, Marlow uses the broad scope of the music. Despite his virtuosity, he is quick to acknowledge the contribution made by Arturo O'Farrill (piano), who has an enviable lineage in Latin jazz, and is the leader of this very fine band. But O'Farrill is not alone in infusing Marlow's music with an ardent spirit, as the other band members contribute in good measure.
The intensity kicks off right from the start. "Mr. O's Groove is a heated one churned by the deep bedrock of the percussion and drums. The rhythm is kept pulsing, and becomes the base for some flights of fancy from Jim Seeley on trumpet and Mario Rivera on soprano saxophone, both of whom turn in fleet yet resolute ideas.
O'Farrill is an inventive pianist. He drinks deeply from the melody and then lays it open with a vibrant run locking in the chords with emphasis. He opens the soul of "Old Havana roving the range of the piano, prancing lithely, changing the shape of the tempo and letting the colors of the composition blossom.
George Gershwin's "Summertime sizzles. The beat is funky, and the trombone of Luis Bonilla and the percussionists offer counterpoint to the saxophones which play the melody. Seeley rips the canvas open with a blazing solo rife with edginess. Bonilla gets the spotlight, the intense thrust of his trombone fanned gently by Rory Stuart whose guitar eases in some cool lines. The arrangement gives the well-roasted tune a salivating tang.
Marlow sets up different moods to let the sum of the parts make a tantalizing whole.
Mr. O's Groove; Song for an Old Soul; Summertime; Arturo's Reverie; Flight; Go Like The Wind; Down the Road; Raices (Roots); A Smile for Everyone; Take-A-Break; Old Havana; Wonderful Discovery.
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