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Jim Self and the Tricky Lix Latin Jazz Band: Yo!

Jack Bowers By

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A tuba in a Latin jazz band? Jim Self, what were you thinking? No matter. Whatever you were thinking, the end result is far more agreeable than even you could have imagined. Yo! (sorry, we can't handle the upside down exclamation point) is a generally delightful album by Self's well-bred nonet, due in no small measure to his full-bodied tuba and a series of bright and pleasing charts. The album's subtitle reads "Featuring the Music of Francisco Torres" (who also plays trombone in the ensemble). Torres, who wrote three of the nine numbers and arranged seven, shows in each instance that he has an admirable sense of melody, harmony and rhythm—in other words, that he is a topnotch sculptor of Latin music.

The exceptions to Torres' bestowals are Nat Simon's enchanting danzon / cha-cha "Poinciana," arranged by Curt Berg, and Clare Fischer's mellifluous cha-cha "Morning," arranged by Bill Cunliffe. Self composed the syncopated title selection (another cha-cha) and shuffling "Encognito" (on which he plays the fluba, whatever that is), Torres the mambo "For Charlie," Afro-Cuban "Sweetest Blue" and laid-back bolero "Quiero Llegar." Completing the program are Eddie Cano's bright mambo "Cal's Pals" and Tito Puente's freewheeling "Old Arrival," both smartly arranged by Torres (who adds an incisive solo on the latter).

The Tricky Lix Latin Band is an outgrowth of Self's earlier group, the Tricky Lix Band, using the same front line with a Latin rhythm section (Joey De Leon, Giancarlo Anderson, George Ortiz) playing everything from congas and bongos to timbales, bata and shekere. The group's more conventional rhythm component consists of pianist Andy Langham and bassist Rene Camacho. As it is a relatively small ensemble, everyone (save Camacho) has at least one chance to solo; the three percussionists are showcased (with Torres and Langham) on "Old Arrival." Self's fellow horn men—Torres, Rob Hardt (tenor and soprano sax, flute on "Morning") and trumpeter Ron Blake —are consistently impressive.

A tuba in a Latin jazz band? As it turns out, not such a crazy idea after all. A splendid album, one of the more savory and succulent Latin confections in quite some time.

Track Listing: Cal’s Pals; Poinciana; For Charlie; Encognito; Sweetest Blue; Quiero Llegar; Yo!; Old Arrival; Morning.

Personnel: Jim Self: tuba, fluba; Ron Blake: trumpet, flugelhorn; Rob Hardt: tenor, soprano sax, flute; Francisco Torres: trombone; Andy Langham: piano; Rene Camacho: bass; Joey DeLeon: timbales, bata, shekere; Giancarlo Anderson: congas; George Ortiz: bongos.

Title: Yo! | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Basset Hound Music

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