Bill O'Connell's Imagine is an improvisational gumbo of originals and standards, killer!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
Bill O'Connell is not the typical Latin jazz pianist. It is one thing to build flavor but it is an artist that can manipulate flavor and create a textured effect. Bill O'Connell and The Latin Jazz All-stars Imagine is the perfect storm of colors, texture, and flavor!
The Latin Jazz All-Stars are made up of A List talent including Steve Slagel, Conrad Herwig, Luques Curtis, Richie Barshay and Richie Flores. Seven originals and two covers including the Great American Songbook classic "Willow Weep For Me" make up this improvisational gumbo of sound. "Willow Weep For Me" is a reharmed into a smoldering cha-cha while the riff on John Lennon's "Imagine" is an emotive vehicle of passion and lyrical purpose. Two standout originals from O'Connell are "Stepping Stones" and "Jigsaw" which are deceptively subtle tunes that swing with an Afro Cuban spice!
Imagine is one of those rare releases that gives us something new with each subsequent spin of the disc. The band is on fire and perhaps the key to success is that Bill O'Connell and The Latin Jazz All-Stars work as a collective instead of Bill O'Connell and five afterthoughts. Criticism? Too short!
Tracks: Optimism; Stepping Stones; Imagine; Shaman's Dance; Missing Mr. Berrios; Jigsaw; 25 Years; Willow Weep For Me; WhiteCaps.
Personnel: Bill O'Connell: Piano; Steve Slagle: Soprano and Alto Saxophones; Conrad Herwig: Trombone; Luques Curtis: Bass; Richie Barshay: Drums; Richie Flores: Percussion.