Kai Winding

Kai Ole

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Before Herb Alpert provided the hit transition from Latin brass to mod brass, Winding made this deluxe gatefold mod/Latin/jazz album. Surprisingly, Latin percussion yields him a lot more freedom than the yet more rigid big beat of the later, near-rock, mod sound. Bass (occasionally walking), a range of horns and woodwinds, and of course the Latin percussion all work together a bit like -- not to damn with faint praise -- the better Command material of the early 1960s. But originals such as the beautiful ballad "Caribe," while lacking the appropriate subtlety, would never have emerged from the Enoch Light factory. Cheesiness lessens slightly on the brasher "Manteca," "Que Pasa?," and "Besame Mucho." "Que Pasa?" begins potentially as a "Tequila" or "Speedy Gonzales" disaster but quickly strolls into basic jazz horn blowing over conga. The uncertainty of Latin jazz in general works against the attempted casualness, but points for effort. The gorgeous sliding horns of "Besame Mucho" are a page out of Billy May Today; unfortunately the tune dies young. Kai Ole uniquely explores a new area of Latin jazz but never quite reaches critical mass.

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