As one of the more exuberant trumpeters in Latin jazz via his stint with Eddie Palmieri, Brian Lynch might surprise his fans with this seductive and sensual album directing his Afro-Cuban-oriented orchestra. With five horns and on occasional the legendary alto saxophonist Phil Woods, Lynch and his band weave some magical and lower-key threads, not so much dedicated to Billie Holiday's music as inspired by her romantic spirit. Split between some well-chosen standards and original compositions, the band struts and sways along on the famous "Delilah," Lynch's easy cha-cha "Afinique," and the beautiful "La Sitiera." Only during the midtempo montuno version of the Charles Mingus evergreen "Celia" or the 6/8 arrangement of Mal Waldron's "Fire Dance" does the band really simmer or even moderately cook. Pianist Zaccai Curtis (of the Curtis Brothers Quartet) and Woods via counterpoint are outstanding in spots, while Lynch himself takes it down a notch throughout, setting the tone, and generously adding a sensitive but regretful feeling to the great take of "I'm a Fool to Want You." From luminous mambos or in serene, pensive underpinnings, this group really hits the mark for subtle yet clearly delineated music that Lady Day surely would have shed a tear or two over, as might we all.
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