Justo Almario

Count Me In

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Sax is still the smooth jazz instrument of choice these days, and it's equally rare to find a player willing to shuffle the stylistic mix on a single album. Suddenly, along comes the still largely unsung Justo Almario to the rescue, showing that it's possible. On Count Me In, he bucks the tried and true by approaching his craft as an overall reedsmith, equally partial to all three sax timbres as well as flute and bass flute. The most exhilirating runs here, in fact, find Almario flirting alongside fellow Latin jazz-popster Dave Valentin. For every low-key radio ready gem like "A New Song," he sprints through a funky blues brass jam and a provocative fusion exercise like "Sabana," featuring Russ Ferrante and Will Kennedy. He's also creative in the production department, grafting Harry Kim's saucy trumpet onto the commercial soul piece "There's Another Way" and going so far as to adding his own vocal percussion techniques to complement the more conventional beats of Marc Quinones and Luis Conte. Despite giving into the temptation of a fogettable token vocal, Almario shows that a little of everything, tracked just right, goes a long way.

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