Caribbean Jazz Project.
The Gathering (Concord Picante)
Nine years ago, mallet master percussionist Dave Samuels created the Caribbean Jazz Project (CJP), an experimental Latin jazz ensemble with the purpose of exploring new possibilities while fusing the sounds of jazz with those of Latin music and its rhythms. The CJP endured the test of time, changing music trends, personnel, instrumentation, and attitudes about both Latin music and jazz. Samuels' original CJP concept was based around the sounds of his vibraphone and marimba, combined with steel drums and saxophone. Later, the ensemble was reformed to create a totally new sonic palette by replacing the steel drums and saxophone with a flute and a guitar while keeping the mallet instruments.
This 2002 Grammy winner for Best Latin Jazz Album of the Year represents the fifth incarnation of the ensemble, with Samuels' mallet instruments and Dave Valentin's flute still out front, but minus the guitar. Keeping everyone together in the rhythm section is the addition of pianist Dario Eskenazi (ah original member of the first CJP ensemble). Another alumnus of CJP, Paquito D'Rivera is also featured in this recording asa special guest on alto saxophone. Completing the ensemble are Ruben Rodriguez on bass and percussionists Dafnis Prieto, Richie Flores and Roberto Quintero. With a lineup of mostly original compositions bearing that distinctive signature sound of CJP via dramatic shifts in tempo, fresh complex breaks, and colorful arrangements, this production is one of their best. Favorite tracks include Rendezvous, The Gathering and The Path, plus Samuels' ingenious arrangement of the Oliver Nelson classic Stolen Moments. (RM)