The Bronx Horns

Catch the Feeling

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The Bronx Horns; Bobby Porcelli (alto sax), Ray Vega (trumpet) and Mitch Frohman (tenor and soprano sax/flute), have (collectively) been the horn section for Mongo Santamaria and Tito Puente for the past decade. Now they step out with this recording rich of horns, bubbling of percussion. The rhythm section should be called "The Bronx Drums," they are as talented and potent as the frontmen. Jimmy and George Delgado (timbales and congas, respectively), and Johnny Rodriguez (bongos) comprise an unstoppable beat machine that both listeners and dancers can appreciate. Of the nine selections, three are crackling mambos. "Get Back In," written by Porcelli, is a reharmonization of the standard "You Stepped out of a Dream," where the horns indeed leap out of REM state into reality. Vega's lustrous trumpet playing shines, as pianist Oscar Hernandez lays out a neat montuno, then brightens "Mitch's Mambo" with his own prismatic light. The hotter jam, Vega's "Mambo Melani," has the horns trading fours incessantly. The happiest tune out of these many spirited numbers is the title track, written by Frohman, an exuberant, easy cha cha with outstanding original writing and execution. "Second Wind" is a songo montuno where Vega really cuts loose, "Teriaki" is a hotter clave comparsa, and the mozambique clave of "King Jacob" with Hernandez's "Milestones" montuno, jumping horns, and Delgado's hard edged timbales solo puts a definitive exclamation point on the set. But right before that the band expands to 11 pieces to do a strident, calm, paced but urgent ballad version of "Moody's Mood for Love," with the bass guitar of Johnny Torres singing on the segment originally vocalized by the female in Eddie Jefferson's interpretation, the horns pleading the male's case. Trumpeter Spanky Davis takes the trumpet solo instead of Vega. It's rare that you find any recording, Latin jazz or not, where there's no filler, no MSG, no letups. The Bronx Horns have made an epic CD as solid as one could be, rewarding upon repeated listenings, and a triumph for the musicians involved. If you can't catch this feeling, it's because you haven't yet found it. But you will.

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