"Another well-earned triumph for the MSQ, which stares down these formidable charts without uneasiness or pause and handily nails every note. For lovers of the saxophone quartet, a rich and flavorful banquet."
Jack Bowers - allaboutjazz.com
"Too often, the sound of the saxophone quartet can wear thin in the wrong hands. Either we're served number after number of bari taking the bass line, tenors the middle, alto on top, or an overabundance of collective improvisation that might be fun to play but can wear on the ear of the listener. Not the Miami Saxophone Quartet. "Midnight Rumba" is a varied program, with lush arrangements of "My Ship" and "Early Autumn," an invigorating re-working of "A Night in Tunisia" and a Piazolla tango with almost classical overtones as the standout pieces." Dan Polletta - WCPN-FM Cleveland
MIDNIGHT RUMBA features the quartet joined by the inimitable Arturo Sandoval (trumpet/flugelhorn/piano) and Latin singing sensation Jon Secada, who performs Ed Calle's arrangement of Jon's hit song "Angel." The all-star Latin percussion section of Lee Levin, Richard Bravo, and Luis Gonzales helps out on Calle's catchy songo "Rice and Beans." Gary Lindsay's arrangements of "A Night In Tunisia" and "Early Autum" feature Arturo Sandoval. Bassist Chuck Bergeron joins in on Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma." Also featured is Ed Calle's first original composition for the quartet, " The Iberia Suite," Gary Lindsay's soulful arrangement of James Taylor's "Benjamin," and Peter McGuiness' lush arrangement of "My Ship."
Liner Notes by Ed Calle:
"Rice & Beans" celebrates not only a staple of Latin cuisine but also the energy of Latin American culture. This Latin jazz "Songo" styled composition fuses the elements of rumba, son, salsa, jazz, and funk. Typically, a Songo allows much rhythmic freedom and experimentation, and the performance of percussionists Richard Bravo and Lee Levin provides an authentic Afro-Cuban flavor. Note the saxophones' rhythmic counterpoint building into the tenor solo, imitating a Latin conga or timbale rhythm building in intensity. The independence and complexity of this section is a tribute to all the great Latin percussionists. The tenor solo fuses "Giant Steps" harmonies with the Afro-Cuban Songo. In my opinion, "Coltrane meets Songo" is a very nice combination indeed - I can't help but imagine how Coltrane would have enjoyed a plate of rice and beans and how he would have loved cooking up his brilliant choruses of Giant Steps over a Songo!
"The Iberia Suite" is inspired by the rich history, beauty, and traditions of Spain, which have piqued the interests of and inspired many artists, musicians and writers. This piece is a tribute to my Spanish heritage, inspired by my colleagues' musicianship and encouragement. The mindset "work to live; don't live to work" exemplifies the Spanish lifestyle philosophy - Spaniards work hard and party harder. "Midnight Rumba" depicts the relaxed, sexy atmosphere of the streets of Madrid, which typically come to life at midnight. On any given night, one can visit a seemingly endless number of open-air establishments packed with patrons conversing, people watching, dancing or otherwise enjoying the nightlife. Many Spanish tourists find that cities close down for a few hours in the middle of the day. The second movement depicts the sonorous serenity of a "Siesta," when one can relax, sleep, and dream. During this time, people spend time with friends and family, enjoy a "merienda" or a snack and recharge their batteries in order to prepare for the rest of the workday and later, another Midnight Rumba. The great American author, Ernest Hemingway, wrote The Sun Also Rises based on his experiences while living in "Pamplona." This movement celebrates the city and people of Pamplona and the tradition, energy, beauty, and power inherent in the running of the bulls. During the course of the piece, I hope the listener will hear conversations between participants and observers, step into a tavern for some "tapas" and a glass of wine, watch a couple dance Flamenco, sense the awesome power of the charging bulls, and feel the exhilaration of a successful run.
My bolero/jazz arrangement of Jon Secada's hit song "Angel "is the quartet's first collaboration with a vocalist. It is challenging and rewarding to feature our quartet in all of its dimensions, ranging from solo ensemble to accompanist of great soloists. Thank you Jon!
Notes By Gary Lindsay:
"Benjamin" is a contemporary folk song composed by James Taylor. I have enjoyed his music since high school and knew I would eventually arrange one of his pieces for the quartet. Taken from Taylor's October Road recording, this piece is an adaptation of James' original arrangement for cello, two violins and acoustic guitar.
"Con Alma" is arranged to feature Gary Keller on tenor. The chord progression, so integral to this tune, begs for the robust sound of Chuck Bergeron's double bass. The smooth, linear style of Stan Getz inspired this arrangement - in tribute, the saxophones quote the first sixteen measures of Stan Getz's solo from his Sweet Rain recording with Chick Corea. After the solos, the arrangement builds to a climax utilizing original counterpoint in Stan's "cool" style.
"A Night in Tunisia" is arranged for alto, two tenors, baritone, and trumpet virtuoso Arturo Sandoval. I have written music for Arturo in the past (GRP recordings), so I know that anything goes! Arturo's masterfully improvised piano introduction kicks off the arrangement and the percussionists couple with bassist Javier Carrion to provide a funky, Miami-Latin touch. During the head the first tenor and trumpet play the melody, second tenor and alto provide counter punches, and the bari doubles the bass line. After the solos, Arturo leads the ensemble to a stratospheric climax before fading out on harmon mute.
"Early Autumn" is inspired by the illustrious performance of Stan Getz in Woody Herman's "Second Herd" recording. The saxophones' rich harmonies are enhanced by Arturo's flugelhorn lead, and double-time figures in the horns keep this slow ballad moving. The tenor lead is also reminiscent of the Herman band.
Notes by Peter McGuiness:
"My Ship" has always been one of my favorite compositions, particularly the melody's arch-shaped phrases and the emotionally satisfying climax. Originally arranged for my group The New York Trombone Conspiracy, I thought it would work equally well for a saxophone quartet. The structure and harmonization here is basically the same as the trombone version, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear the different colors brought out by the saxophones, including the sweetness of the soprano lead and the overall blend. I've found the saxophone quartet (especially this one!) capable of both beautiful balance AND great variety of tone color.
Notes by Astor Piazolla:
Astor Piazolla: The Tango is full of grace and liveliness. "Bordel 1900 " paints a picture of the good-natured chatter of the French, Italian, and Spanish women who peopled these [Buenos Aires] bordellos as they teased the policemen, thieves, sailors, and riffraff who came to see them.