Latin Jazz Project Vol. 2
Latin Jazz Project Vol. 2 is the tenth release by the Bay Area guitarist and composer Ray Obeido, his originals plus one from producer/arranger Gerald Wilson. Of the 29 musicians in the credits, 15 of them return from Volume 1, they being mostly Bay Area veterans but also including acclaimed Yellowjackets’ reedist Bob Mintzer, percussionist Norbert Stachel, trumpeter Mike Olmos, and percussionist Peter Michael Escovedo. Santana members who were also aboard on the last round include keyboardist David K. Mathews, trombonist and arranger Jeff Cressman, and percussionist Karl Perazzo. Other notables include Tower of Power drummer David Garibaldi who is new to this round are vocalists Lilan Kane and Jenny Meltzer. Hungarian pianist Peter Horvath, steel pan player Phil Hawkins, vocalist Jenny Meltzer, and Dutch brothers Marc and the late Paul Van Wageningen on bass and drums also join.
The music is Latin at the core with hints of contemporary jazz and R&B. Obeido and his bandmates deliver mostly simmering, relaxing grooves that make for an easy but certainly not an overpowering listen that one might expect, given the pedigrees of Tower of Power, Santana, and even Aerosmith. The styles range from Cha Cha to mambo to bossa to soca. Salsa is absent. Obeido stays in the pocket, playing fluidly in service to the composition while shunning any histrionics. The numerous musical contributors owe to tunes recorded in various studios and some of it online over the course of almost two years. Each tune has a featured soloist(s).
Opening with “Still Life,” a Cha Cha that Obeido wrote for Pete Escovedo’s orchestra, both the leader and pianist Horvath step forward. “Criss Cross” is an up-tempo mambo with Mathews’ keys and Sheila E.’s congas giving it a fusion flourish. “Beanik” finds Mintzer blowing his trademark tenor to another Cha Cha rhythm while “Santa Lucia,” featuring Stachel’s flute is a Soca, a Caribbean style from Trinidad and Tobago, as one might guess from the presence of steel drums.
“Belafonte,” again featuring Horvath, is a bossa styled on Jobim and “Uno Dos,” a Cuban tinged mambo, mostly through Mathews’ organ and Garibaldi’s funky drumming somewhat echoes the sound of Santana. “Viva Tirado” immediately seems different than the preceding tunes, with its familiar riff, courtesy of composer Gerald Wilson. It was recorded by the Latin rock group El Chicano, whose version most influenced Obeido. Trumpeter Mike Olmos, multi-reedist Melecio Magdaluyo, and pianist Mathews all solo. Olmos steps out again in the closer along with Sheila E. in the 6/8 “Big World.”
Grooves abound on this one. They all go down smoothly and easily with percolating percussion and tasty solos adding the extra punch.
- Jim Hynes
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