Cuba is a small island, but its musical impact has been anything but small. When you consider that salsa bands are active in places that range from Africa to South America to Scandinavia, you can't help be amazed by how far Afro-Cuban rhythms (son, cha-cha, guaguancó, mambo, guajira, among many others) have traveled. Recorded for the Danish Sundance label in 1998, Jazz and Mambo finds tenor saxman/clarinetist Hans Ulrik and other Scandinavian musicians embracing mostly Latin jazz. The music is hard bop with Afro-Cuban rhythms -- nothing groundbreaking, but generally likable and swinging. Ulrik gets into some fast barnburners (including "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "What Can I Say After I Say I'm Sorry"), but his playing is more lyrical on slower material such as "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "Nature Boy," and Bronislau Kaper's haunting "Invitation." Jazz and Mambo won't win any awards for innovation -- most of the tunes are standards have been done to death, and even though this CD was recorded in 1998, a lot of the performances could have been recorded in the 1950s or 1960s. Nonetheless, Ulrik and friends are pleasant, if conventional and highly derivative -- and people of Cuban descent should be proud of the fact that musicians in a country as far from Cuba as Denmark are still being inspired their culture.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson