One term that is being used more and more in the jazz world is Afro-Cuban jazz. The term is used out of a desire to be specific; Poncho Sanchez and others who are mainly interested in combining jazz with Afro-Cuban rhythms (son, guaguancó, cha-cha, mambo, danzón, etc.) have a different approach from, say, a pan-Latin jazzman like pianist Danilo Pérez (whose interest in Latin music includes not only Afro-Cuban salsa but also, a variety of South American rhythms). So where does Negroni's Trio -- a threesome consisting of José Negroni on acoustic piano, his son Nomar Negroni on drums and Jaime Rivera on electric and acoustic bass -- fit in? Essentially, they're a post-bop group that is capable of playing both Afro-Cuban jazz and non-Afro-Cuban Latin jazz. José Negroni, a hard-swinging virtuoso whose influences range from Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett to Michel Camilo, Eddie Palmieri and Irakere founder Chucho Valdés, wrote or co-wrote most of the songs on Piano-Drums-Bass -- and quite often, his playing and writing underscore his love of salsa and Afro-Cuban rhythms. But not all of the Latin rhythms that are heard on this 2004 release originated in Cuba, the birthplace of what came to be known as salsa. "Los Duendes," for example, has a strong Spanish flavor -- the piece isn't unlike some of Corea's more Spanish-minded compositions -- while "Bougainvillea" is Brazilian-influenced and "Mavi" employs the Puerto Rican bomba rhythm. Nonetheless, everything on this CD is relevant to Latin music in some way; that is true of the original material as well as interpretations of Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" (which is incorrectly listed as "Footprint" in the credits) and George Gershwin's "Summertime"." And the album, although not innovative or groundbreaking, is consistently enjoyable if one is open to hearing a variety of Latin jazz.
by Alex Henderson