Mark Weinstein

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Timbasa Review

by Michael G. Nastos

In that cultural cross references have been embraced by many Jewish jazz musicians (John Zorn in recent times for his Tzadik label), flutist Mark Weinstein has steadfastly been dedicated to the traditions of modern Latin jazz. For Timbasa, that commitment is more focused, as he teams up with a group of lesser-known South American and Caribbean musicians to play some standard fare styles, but in a new way. There are what might be seen as stock covers of jazz standards, as Weinstein and his group easily navigate their way through familiar melodies, sometimes with a twist. Two originals by percussionist Pedrito Martinez are included, and two more by the leader, whose even-keeled style of flute playing is solidly melodic and distinctive in the strength with which he plays the instrument. While a familiar composition like "Milestones" is played to strict tolerances, Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" is chopped up in quirky mixed meters, "Caravan" features scat vocals before the band starts cooking, and the bright, vibrant music of Chucho Valdés' "A Ernesto" is taken in a constant up/down dynamic. "Encuentro" is provided by Martinez as a cooker, set up by the piano of Axel Tosca Laugart, a new discovery whose brilliance is clear from the outset. There are tribal and classic Afro-Cuban moments signifying Weinstein's literate, flighty, but never over the top flute playing, but the jazz pieces mark him as one who controls the vibe without being demonstrative. All of these types of efforts provide great moments and consistently good playing that a general audience can enjoy.

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