Hombres Calientes ("The Hot Men") are actually pretty cool. With a spare sound straight out of the Afro-Cuban and jazz traditions, they prove capable of boiling the pot when called upon. They consist of young trumpeter Irvin Mayfield, veteran percussionist Bill Summers, and the youngest member of the Marsalis family, drummer Jason. Bassist David Pulphus, percussionist/vocalist Yvette Bostic-Summers (Bill's wife), and the especially tasteful pianist Victor Atkins III join in for added depth and spice. There are no writing credits on the disc, but it seems that Mayfield wrote or co-wrote eight of the ten tracks, with Summers contributing on eight and Marsalis on four. Though aligned with Wynton Marsalis, Mayfield shows a definite Dizzy Gillespie influence on "Rhumba Para Jason," starting slow and speeding up considerably in the last minute. "Victor el Rojo" is a mid-tempo heater, and an easy version of the jazz standard "After You've Gone" shows Mayfield's feet firmly planted in both cool jazz and Cuban melodicism. The group is at its hottest and most communal on "Rompe Saraguey" and "Irvin's Crisis," which features a stop-start melody reminiscent of Thelonious Monk's "Evidence." Mayfield turns a snippet of a melody into a descarga for "Bill's Q Yvette," and the "Oye Como Va"-like "El Barrio" features Bill Summers on vocals. Atkins really lays his influences on the table for all to hear with the elegant ballad "Stardust," and goes from McCoy Tyner-ish modalism to Eddie Palmieri-style montuno freneticism on "Pulphus' Final Frontier." This is a good first effort, and it seems as if Hombres Calientes are committed to being a living, working band.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos