Bill O'Connell and The Latin Jazz All-Stars are on fire!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Bill O'Connell cut his formative Latin jazz teeth with Mongo Santamaria so you know this guy is legit. Now, toss in a couple of righteous horn players in Steve Slagle and Conrad Herwig and then a rhythm section built around Luques Curtis on bass, Adam Cruz on drums and the percussive flair of Richie Flores on congas and you have a band destined to record! Zocalo is the end result of a Birdland gig back in 2012 and the results are stellar.
Those that roll with me in my musical mafia dig that Latin jazz is my wheelhouse, The Latin Jazz All-Stars are more of a band, they are a Latin summit where ideas are tossed out and worked to such a degree that the back heat is what will grab you. There are straight ahead jazz riffs such as "For All We Know" while the smoldering undercurrent of flavor pops with "The Surrey With The Fringe On Top." Victor Feldman's "Joshua" gets a second chance at life and with amazing results! The all important ingredient of chemistry is what elevates this recording past simple hybrid status and into that rare working band state where each co-conspirator seems to feed off the next solo. The arrangements of O'Connell are another winning component of the red beans and rice flavored release. Soulful and soul filled has Bill O'Connell working with laser like precision while managing to celebrate the spontaneity and fire that is the embodiment of Latin jazz. If you dig Latin on any conceivable level whatsoever there is simple nothing here to grind on.
Bill O'Connell's additional work with Dave Valentin and the amazing Fort Apache Band have allowed his talents to come full circle. This is a release that should have Bill O'Connell receiving the attention he so rightfully deserves. A virtually flawless recording that should cut a wide sonic path among fans both old and new.
Tracks: Big Sur; Joshua; Zocalo; For All We Know; Nothing But The Truth; 21st Century Blues; The Surrey With The Fringe On Top; Erik's Song; One Note Mambo.
Personnel: Bill O'Connell: Piano; Steve Slagle: Alto Saxophone (1, 3-5,9), Soprano Saxophone: (2, 6-8); Conrad Helwig: Trombone; Richie Flores: Congas; Luques Curtis: Bass; Adam Cruz: Drums.
Track 2 Only: Roman Diaz: Bata & Vocal, Diego Lopez: Bata, Jadele MacPherson: Vocal.