by: Hobart Taylor
Carlos Vega - Bird's Ticket - (Origin)
Vibrant, in the pocket, and cliche free this release is straight ahead small ensemble jazz with Latin tinges. Saxophonist Vega's compositions are delicate, nuanced, sophisticated, and intimate. Up beat tunes like "A Confluence in Chi-town" or "The Wizard" are compelling brain ticklers, and the mini-suite "Taurus on the Run" and "Taurus and Virgo" featuring the personable trumpet performance of Victor Garcia stand out. This is a rich and rewarding release. My favorite moments are contained in the jagged rhythms and tempo changes in "Chicago Eight".
Ray Vega and Thomas Marriott - Return of the East West Trumpet Summit - (Origin)
About five years ago, Vega and Marriott released their first East West summit. Continuing here, they delicately carry on the soulful tradition of sweet and beautifully melodic tunes from the golden age of jazz as popular music, the 1960's. Backed by George Colligan on the Hammond B-3 and drummer Matt Jorgensen, tunes by the likes of Curtis Fuller, Lee Morgan, and Wayne Shorter are played with skill and passion. My faves: "United" and "The Egyptian".
Michael Spiro/Wayne Wallace y La Orquestra Sinfonietta - Canto America - (Patois)
This pastische of various Afro-Latin musics from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and the minds of contemporary Norte Americanos Wallace and Spiro is so gorgeously arranged and stunning probably because it is not a tribute to a tradition as much as it is a re-imagining of same. The Cuban "orquestra" is augmented by various string arrangements that hearken back to the origins on the "Eurpeanization" of the music in the 1920's. Here traditions walk hand in hand rather than attempting to re-make each other, or to fuse, (check out "Stardust"). Wallace and Spiro then add their own thoughtful twists making this project unique as and truly special.