Friday, November 2, 2012

Mac Gollehon La Fama American Showplace Music 2012

You've heard me speak of legitimate jazz triple threats with the qualifications normally being an educator, performer and clinician so go ahead and toss Mac Gollehon's name in the mix because Gollehon is indeed the real deal.

This Berklee grad has his latest offering La Fama hitting the streets on November 6, 2012. Considered by many to be one of the most versatile trumpet players over the last three decades, Gollehon's La Fama keys off of legends of the New York City Latin music scene recorded from 1980 and 1996. Let us drop but a few names shall we? Charlie Palmieri on organ, Hilton Ruiz on piano, Lester Bowie on trumpet, and Tony Thompson on drums.

La Fama works as well in 2012 as it did some sixteen years earlier thanks to Gollehon's prolific and incredibly innovative work arranging and composing work whose edge has never wavered but instead grown stronger with the passage of time. This may well be the best recording of the high point when the Big Apple fell in love with Latin Jazz and never looked back. Gollehon's talents began turning the heads of the most prominent producers on the scene at that time including Nile Rodgers and Arif Mardin and his chameleon like ability to assimilate himself into virtually any musical setting serves him well to this day. Gollehon's resume is enviable indeed working with David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Duran Duran and Al Jarreau and all within an incredibly short period of time. Having worked the small screen of television and commercials there are not many media formats Gollehon can not conceptually adapt his prodigious talent to in order to achieve the highest quality of success. While keeping this busy schedule, Gollehon squeezed in La Fama which is his eighth and probably best recording as a leader inspired by the late Lester Bowie and his group Brass Fantasy where Max's well conceived flavor of jazz, blues and funk was received with great enthusiasm.

"La Fama" is a tune by Hector Lavoes with a hypnotic almost small Latin jazz orchestra vibe that is melodically driven by a plethora of subtle sonic nuances that all add up to a flavor that satisfies but never overpowers. Gollehon's muted trumpet is the perfect lead voice adding to the vibrant texture and color lyrical sense of purpose. The groove as is one definitely heard with the feet and felt with the hips. Rock solid in presentation, "La Fama" is but a warm up of great tunes to come. "Conjunto Cool" is just that, a straight up and yet smoldering Latin groove with a horn section on fire and a percussive overload not to be missed. Gollehon trades trumpet solos with Doc Cheathan and Ray Maldonado and if you miss your morning coffee then simply pop this track in and unless you happen to be waiting on your autopsy report then I would recommend having some "defib" paddles handy during the solos. Deep rich color and texture with the non stop percussion and the fiery attitude on display that this band takes no prisoners. Closing this set is a tribute to the late Dizzy Gillespie with "A Night In Tunsia" which for this critic may well be the finest version with the exception of the original to be presented in any format. A hard charging swinging with a deceptively subtle funk lurking in the shadows this tune is fun, straight no chaser. Mac Gollehon may well be the best trumpet player some of you may not be familiar with.

Guaranteed to hit your musical sweet spot and back that back leg shake, La Fama should have Latin fans on fire and cut an even wider path among straight ahead fans. Originality, intensity and the passion of what Latin jazz is all about. It simply does not get much better than this.

Tracks: La Fama; New Mac City; Introspection; Voices; Casinos; Fried Neck Bones; Donde Lo Hace Duelen; Fotos De Los Ochentas; Conjunto Moods; Nite Trax; A Night In Tunsia.

Personnel: Mac Gollehon: trombone, trumpet; Charlie Palmieri: organ; Larry Harlow: piano, organ; Hilton Ruiz: piano, organ; Gilberto "El Pulpo" Colon: piano; Alon Nechushten: piano, wurlitzer; Carlos "Potato" Valdez" congas; Frankie Malaby: congas, bata; SA Davis; congas, bata; Eddie Montalvo: congas; Francisco "Kako" Bastar: timbales; Nicky Marrero: timbales; Jimmy Delgado: percussion; Ray Colon: percussion; Tony Thompson: drums; Bernard Edwards: bass; Ray Martinez: bass; Victor Venegas: bass; Alex Blake: bass; Ray Maldonado: trumpet; Lester Bowie: trumpet; Jose Febles; trumpet; Doc Cheatham; trumpet; "Puchi" Boulong: trumpet; Jose Rodriguez: trombone; Harry D. Aguiar: trombone; Barry Rogers: harmonica: trombone; Michael Grey: trombone; Baron Raymonde: alto sax; Mauricio Smith: flute; Robert Aaron: flute, piccolo; A.J. Mantas: vibes.

Gollehon playing with Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy shortly before Bowie's passing via You Tube