Mark Alban Lotz

Cuban Fishes Make Good Dishes

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Flute player Mark Lotz is from the Netherlands, but that doesn't keep his Afro-Cuban excursion Cuban Fishes Make Good Dishes from sounding remarkably authentic. Although traditional jazz instruments like flute, piano, bass, reeds, and horns make appearances on most of these 14 songs (the moody ballads "Sweet Ochún" and "Yewa's Call" most notably), the album's focus is on traditional forms related both to Cuban music and to the Caribbean religion of Santeria: chants in the Yoruba language and rhythms played on the traditional trio of bata drums predominate. On a couple of songs, particularly "A Shuffle for Ochún," the chants and drums are placed against traditional jazz instrumentation, for a sound pleasingly similar to Sun Ra's vocal tracks. On most of the album, however, the traditional Cuban music and Lotz's jazz interpretations of same are kept largely separate. This is a shame, because this is one cross-cultural jazz album that doesn't use its world music influences as a sort of exotica wraparound on the same old post-bop workouts, and a greater commingling of Lotz's cerebral European jazz sensibility and the earthy immediacy of the Yoruba vocals could potentially have been even more entertaining. Despite the terrible, cutesy album title, this shouldn't be missed.

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