Carlos Jimenez is a kind of metaphor for Latin jazz, from Yonkers, New York, to Puerto Rico ("the island") and back, with instrumental and stylistic stops along the way. Jazz flute has had some storied practitioners, and Jiménez is obviously well along getting a foothold there too in this, his sixth album since 2005. Interestingly, Jiménez says Cuban percussionist Mongo Santamaria spurred his transition from brass to woodwind, which speaks volumes about the importance of polyrhythms to Latin jazz. If the story somehow conjures up some reverse version of Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo, that is just fine because Jiménez, instrumental virtuosity aside, has assimilated them all. Jiménez styles himself a salsero flautist. That works too.
One would probably expect a killer rhythm section on a recording such as this, and there is. Vince Cherico does not have the reputation he does for nothing; his playing on "Smoketacular" is, well, spectacular, and the whole band gets into some crazy groove on "Outside in The Rain." That is by no means held back by bassist Ruben Rodriguez, who is everywhere propulsive, but never obtrusive. Then add famed salsa pianist Hector Martignon and it is a party. "Dreams of Brazil" is a challenge. If it does not put listeners in the mood for dancing, they are probably unwell.
Of course, Jiménez is excellent both as a composer and instrumentalist. All sorts of bop references come through, and changes that at once sound familiardéjà vuthen go somewhere else. The entire production is a pleasure to listen to, so musical, but swinging hard, sometimes meditative but locked in too. There does not seem to be much that Jiménez cannot do, and with a plus ultra band, so much the better.
Remember the famous advertising slogan, "You don't have to be Jewish to love Levy's [rye bread]" ? Well, the audience does not have to be anything other than connoisseurs of good music and polished musicianship to like "Woods." Enjoy .
You're The Best Pops; Wheelbarrow Blues; Eyes Over Dawn; Dreams of Brazil; Woods; Snuggle &
Cuddle; Not That Far Away; Bamboo Path; Smoketacular; Outside In The Rain.
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