Scorching the Skins

Jack Costanzo

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Scorching the Skins Review

by Scott Yanow

Jack Costanzo originally became famous for playing bongos with Stan Kenton's Orchestra and the Nat King Cole Trio. He kept very busy in the 1950s and then had a lower profile for a few decades, making a comeback in the late '90s. Scorching the Skins has Costanzo leading a large group through a variety of styles, all of them Latinized. Along the way one hears swing (a spirited if overly brief "Sing, Sing, Sing"), bop ("Birks Works"), New Orleans jazz ("Creole Spice"), Afro-Cuban jazz, and a generous amount of vocal salsa pieces. Costanzo is a potent force leading the percussion section but is happy to feature his many talented sidemen. This set not only shows that Costanzo is still in his musical prime but acts as a sampler of some of the many fine styles that fall into the realm of Latin jazz/salsa.

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