MAMBO JAZZ DANCE is the latest release from Bobby Matos & his Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble on LifeForce Jazz Records. Recorded live at two different Southern California concert venues, this recording also features strong contributions from some very special guest artists, in addition to the regular members of the ensemble. Well known jazz trumpeter Dr. Bobby Rodriguez is heard on all but one track, and three tracks also feature contributions from Italian/Brazilian trumpeter/trombonist Gabriel Rosati, chorus singer Ismael Carlo, and Jazz & Latin Jazz violinist Harry Scorzo (well known as an L.A. session regular and past member of cult Latin Jazz group BONGO LOGIC).
Charter members of the ensemble include arranger- multi instrumentalist Daniel Weinstein (trombone & violin). Dan’s violin stretches out on the Charanga number OIGANLO, and he contributes two sparkling arrangements of two classic Latin tunes first heard in movies, BAHIA & ANNA (here recast as a Puerto Rican Bomba Sica). Pianist Theo Saunders contributes two strong original mambo Jazz tunes, MAMBO CHRIS & HUEVOS RANCHEROS. Bassist John B. Williams stretches out on MAS BAJO part 2, a Tito Puente composition. Conguero Robertito Melendez lays down a fat tumbao throughout and explodes on the Charanga/Descarga NO ME DIGA’ NA’. Weinstein, tenor & flute player Pablo Calogero, and Dr. Rodriguez demonstrate well honed jazz chops as well as a thorough knowledge of Afro Cuban and Afro Rican music. Jud Matos lays down strong guiro and cowbell patterns, locking in well with Bobby’s timbale grooves. The leader also contributes two originals; the “Mongo-esque” MAMA COOLBEANS and the modal spoken word mood piece THE NEW WOMAN, where he blends English, Spanish, and Spanglish with the muted trumpet of Rodriguez.
This group easily transitions between a Latin Jazz horn oriented sound and a typical Cuban Charanga flute/violin/rhythm/ dance band sound, demonstrated so well on two examples of the sexy Cuban Guajira. RECUERDOS, a Lalo Schiffrin tune first heard in the 1970’s Hollywood film “Che”, and AMANECER, a staple of Mongo Santamaria’s book from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. RECUERDOS haunting beautiful melody is led through Theo Saunder’s thoughtful and dynamic piano solo, while Pablo Calogero totally deconstructs the Cuban flute solo, introducing the very avant garde solo styling of this century.
Throughout this recording, you get the impression that Matos feels Mambo is one of the highest forms of musical expression, and that it is both true Jazz and true Afro Latin dance music (commonly known today as Salsa).
There is an art to producing a great studio recording but Jazz aficionados know full well that type of recording is not an accurate reflection of what a band really sounds like. Beyond the well assembled, edited, and manicured recordings, only a live session can give you the feel and excitement that you get from experiencing a group of talented and dedicated musicians deal with the creative risks that produce great performances.
On MAMBO JAZZ DANCE, you can feel the joy and passion of musicians playing music that they clearly love. And you can hear that they have a great love, knowledge and respect for tradition but are not imprisoned by it. They are definitely unafraid of innovation and dare to mix elements of progressive and “avant garde” Jazz with traditional Latin dance elements to produce their unique and personal statements. Their virtuosity and experience come forth as the real sound of performance beyond a record producer’s personal vision.
This is the real deal--seasoned Jazz and Latin Jazz musicians, great art, passionate rhythms and beautiful melodies resulting in music that is the real deal.