Wayne Wallace / Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet


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Trombonist Wayne Wallace gathers strength in numbers through his previous large-ensemble jazz and Latin projects, tapping on local West Coast resources to expand the language of his instrument and the music he favors. For this recording he effectively harmonizes with himself by utilizing double- and triple-tracking for the same end result, making his tenor and alto trombone or Wagner tuba sound like a full brass section on several selections. He employs the elegant and skilled vocalist Jackie Ryan on two tracks and a vocal choir for another two, and faithfully stays within the Afro-Caribbean tradition of music mined by Papo Vazquez, Steve Turre, and Chris Washburn. Wallace has picked a wonderful rhythm section that perfectly exemplifies ideal teamwork, with percussionist Michael Spiro, bassist David Belove, drummer Paul Van Wageningen, and especially the exceptional pianist Murray Low to shape these original tunes and standards beautifully, within the framework of classic Cuban rhythms. The title track is a gem, a cool song featuring sharp accents and percussion inserts in a montuno/descarga sauce. The tumba-tumbao swing "Songo Colorado" features the lead vocal of Orlando Torriente with a chorus of singers, joyous and alive -- a tune that makes you wanna holler "yeah!" Dedicated to brothers Jerry and Andy Gonzalez, "TBA" starts with a single trombone that is multiplied by overdubbing, and displays the most refined piano playing from Low. Latin superstar flutist Roger Glenn makes a cameo appearance during the outstanding "Cha-Cha de Alegria," elevating the ensemble's cachet as he also overdubs a vibraphone track in danzon style. The cuts with Ryan's dusky vocal component are no less compelling as she jumps into the fray scatting on the clave jazz take of "Love Walked In," and exploits her alluring feminine charms for the purely romantic "Close Your Eyes." Ryan is a keeper, and one to always pay attention to when speaking of great contemporary jazz singers. Wallace is also mindful of early jazz tradition during his bolero ballad rendition of the vintage chestnut "Memories of You," utilizing his single languid trombone. He also pulls out a melodica to play Jovino Santos Neto's "As Cores da Menina," a samba tune that adds more contrast. Even reverting to well-done commercial funk, he combines Freddie Hubbard's "Straight Life" and Weldon Irvine's "Mr. Clean" with Low on electric piano in a contemporary approach that is far from foreign or compromising. With a handful of recordings in the Wallace discography and confidence growing on every one, Infinity is solid top to bottom. It's close to his best effort so far, with still more to come in what promises to be a long and satisfying career for Wayne Wallace, who has to be deemed a top-drawer jazz and Latin trombonist in the 2000s and beyond.

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