Q: How does a guy born and bred in the Midwest make authentic Latin jazz? A: By submerging himself in the cross-cultural melting pot of the New York scene. His Ph.D. in ethnomusicology also helps, as does playing weekly with his Syotos band at one of the best jazz clubs (Smoke) and one of the top Latin clubs (Nuyorican Poets Cafe). Chris Washburne's music sizzles, crackles, and engages both the brain and body, combining Latin rhythms and percussion with jazz, funk, R&B, hip-hop, gospel, Caribbean, and Afro-Cuban. His trombone playing swings hard and clutter-free, saying more with less; as on his two previous releases, the arrangements are tight and varied on Paradise in Trouble, with no hint of formula. The catchy opener, "Money Is the Future Tense" (which is remixed as the house-music closer), sets the tone for the rest of the album: delightful originals rendered by a well-oiled, terrific band. Washburne's driving "Dirty as a Boy" combines the Cuban son with hip-hop, while keyboardist Barry Olsen's "Your Inside Out" churns with a nine-beat rhythm from Zimbabwe. The African gyil, a mallet instrument made from gourds and wood, is featured on saxist Ole Mathisen's jazzy "Dr. Syo." Olsen, Mathisen, and trumpeter John Walsh -- who wrote the funky "On Whatever Day of the Week...." -- are particularly blazing in their solos, while drummer Vince Cherico provides subtle, intricate propulsion throughout. On the title track, funk meets mambo, and there's a nod to Latin legend Willie Colón in a powerhouse version of his "Jazzy." Washburne blends ancient traditions and contemporary influences into an energetic and happy mix. An excellent blues-chaser and party CD, Paradise in Trouble will also please fusion fans who prefer to listen carefully to its creative innovations; their challenge will be sitting still. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Judith Schlesinger