After three decades of recording as a leader, pianist Makoto Ozone's Jungle, featuring his No Name Horses big band, is a twist in a new direction. Co-leading the band with trumpeter/flügelhornist Eric Miyashiro, Ozone and his musicians offer an array of Latin jazz works that blend elements of the past with progressive influences. The leader's "Coconut's Meeting" and "B&B" are straight-ahead Afro-Cuban jazz tunes with infectious grooves. "Cave Walk" opens with an eerie piano solo, then moody brass with chugging baritone sax, highlighted by trumpeter Sho Okumara's muted solo. Trombonist Eijiro Nakagawa's "Safari" is a dissonant blues that bubbles with energy, while tenor saxophonist Toshio Miki's "Moon Flower" opens as a delicate ballad with a rich tapestry of horns and brass behind Ozone's spacious solo, though it blossoms into a driving affair. It's a shame that so few of Makoto Ozone's releases have been issued in the U.S. since 2001, though this strong effort will hopefully increase his opportunities to share his music with the American market.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden