Ray Vega

Squeeze, Squeeze

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Ray Vega's fourth album not only confirms his status as one of the leading Afro-Cuban trumpeters of his generation, but also shows an admirable willingness not to be stuck in one subgenre of jazz forever. Squeeze, Squeeze focuses mostly on band originals, composed not only by Vega but also by bassist Gregg August, whose "Crescent Mood" has an enjoyably retro feel that recalls the smooth, fusiony jazz of the CTI Records crowd, and alto saxophonist Bobby Porcelli, whose post-bop ballad "Both" is one of the album's highlights. The album has a few standard Afro-Cuban jazz pieces, most notably the closing "La Tercera," the rollicking title track, and a bracing take on Wayne Shorter's "Black Nile." However, the majority of the album explores a strong bop influence, as on Vega's own "Smile, You're in Beirut" and an extended take on McCoy Tyner's "Contemplation," which features an outstanding, Dizzy Gillespie-style solo from Vega.

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