Tumbao Bravo's third CD has seen a shift in both personnel and dynamism, though not straying away from their love of Latin jazz. Founding member Paul Vornhagen is playing more flute, less tenor saxophone, and sounds better than ever. Bongo player Cano has joined Javier Berrios on timbales and bandleader/conga master Dr. Alberto Nacif. Trumpeter Bob Mojica is strengthening his role in the band, Pat Prouty is now the bassist, and young virtuoso pianist Wesley Reynoso adds a more pronounced modal feeling -- he's a real find for the group and their fans at large. The democracy in splitting up composition responsibilities is divided evenly between Vornhagen and Nacif, with Nacif's contributions influenced by Russian culture, and Vornhagen's from his trips to warmer climes. At their core, Tumbao Bravo plays a joyous music as signified by the opener "Sayulita," one of several montuno jams with Vornhagen and Mojica bursting with happiness. Reynoso does a great job of setting the pace, while the churning percussionists bubble up the beat on the jazzier title track, deliver a Bolshevik melody with Afro-Cuban underpinnings during "Pushkin, My Friend," and have at a call-and-response duel between horns and rhythm section for "Ritmo Bravo," with the pianist providing the glue and dynamism throughout. This band has a penchant for hot and attractive music that is not slicked back or overproduced. "Habla" is in 6/8, uses contrasting polyrhythms between percussion and piano, with dynamite solo by Reynoso. From 6/8 to 4/4, the orishas oriented "Caminos" is a delightful groove, and a full display for Vornhagen's attractive flute. "Mojicarrific" reflects the Kenny Dorham Blue Note sound of Latin jazz (Vornhagen on tenor sax) that was so fresh in the mid-'50s, while the busyness of an airport is reflected in the diffuse melody line of "Schiphol," both of these written by Prouty. The band can also play pretty as on the sweet bolero "Serenata" and the simple linear and slight harmonic procession of "Sharonesque." Third recordings are supposed to be a breakthrough for any group, but this is an ensemble in a stage of evolution, self-evaluation, and change. No matter how you slice it, Tumbao Bravo is out to not only show you a good time, but also absolutely love playing great original music to their highest capabilities.
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AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos