Greg Diamond

Dancando Com Ale

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Though he will be properly pegged a contemporary Latin jazz guitarist/composer, Greg Diamond is much more than that, as heard on his very fine debut album as a leader. Through the course of listening, you hear references to jazz standards, the N.Y.C. neo-bop influence, and Brazilian and Afro-Cuban progressive music, but more specifically, the bubbling, dancing, happy sound of the Caribbean. Tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake is responsible as anyone for helping Diamond produce this modern sound, as he plays in tandem with the guitarist on melody lines, or during three selections with fellow saxophonist (alto or soprano) Brian Hogans. Drummer Ferenc Nemeth (on loan from fellow guitarist Lionel Loueke,) bassist Edward Perez, percussionist Arturo Stable, and guest pianist, the wonderful Emilio Solla (on two tracks), provide a broad pallete for Diamond to refract every color of the prismatic, multi-cultural rainbow. You won't hear a particularly distinctive guitar sound from Diamond, but one that is fully integrated with his very talented bandmates. Of the five reinterpretations, Mongo Santamaria's "Sofrito" is the most well-known, a classic, sexy mambo in midtempo with Blake's lissome sax lines and the supple soprano of Hogans joining in sultry passion. Diamond unearths Hermeto Pascoal's "Rebulico," a bright dance piece with some furious unison passages; the famed Astor Piazzolla nueva tango "Libertango," replete with ostinato bass triggering Diamond's rambling guitar; and the chordal, percussion-driven "All or Nothing," with Blake on the second line of the melody. Diamond's five originals feature the title track with Solla in a typical Latin 6/8 beat purged by Stable's bongo drums, "Primavera" in a busy updated bop style suggesting celebratory terpsichore where the leader and Blake are well-suited, and the hip singing sounds of "Paradigma," in a rhumba à la Thelonious Monk in 5/4, buoyed by the singing sounds of both saxophonists. A slow bolero, "Delicate Contents," suggests the phrases of the standard "More Than You Know," as the intimate Solla and Diamond melt into the sunset. An extremely attractive recording, Greg Diamond has set the bar high from the outset with this crafted, heartfelt offering. As he finds his individualism and personal voice, expect some grand music from this promising performer.

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