Mike Freeman and Zona Vibe are a top-notch Latin jazz quintet who often sound like a bigger band. The leader doubles on vibes and marimba, utilizing a four mallet technique to achieve a fuller sound on his instruments, which he often uses together. Guitarist Bruce Saunders is the other major soloist, though Freeman breaks with the Latin Jazz tradition of Cal Tjader and Tito Puente by omitting a keyboard, resulting in greater focus on his phenomenal chops. Seven of the nine songs are Freeman originals, highlighted by his sassy salsa "Cha Cha Mama," the turbulent "Red Thunder," and the engaging chant-like "Afriman." Bassist Ricardo Rodriguez, percussionist Harry Adorno,and conga player Little Johnny Rivero supply a solid foundation for the quintet's tasty Latin Jazz.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden