P.O. Box 924125
Houston TX 77292
Towns, guitar; Rainel Pino, piano; Anibal
Ambert, bass; Jorge "Cro Cro" Orta,
congas, timbales, bongo, cowbell, güiro;
*Hubert Laws, flute; additional personnel
1. Pick Up The Pieces
2. Desert Flower*
3. Ever After*
4. Star Light
5. Orange & Blue
6. Spanish Funk
9. Rainy Night*
Iíve had a soft spot for
Latin-American music ever since Percy Faith
made a ten-inch LP called Carnival Rhythms
in about 1952, which must have employed
the best percussionists in Spanish Harlem.
But I am often disappointed in "Latin
jazz"; itís sometimes merely busy and
noisy, the piano flashy and percussive, the
rhythm instruments ticking and tocking away.
And Iím not crazy about the electric guitar,
or the flute.
This album washes away all
my prejudices. Towns has written all the tunes
except one (the first track comes from the
Average White Band); they are all fun and
charming, varying the album nicely tempo-wise.
His guitar sound is varied as well, but usually
sounds like an amplified acoustic instrment.
The contributions of Hubert Laws are apposite
and lovely, not getting in the way. In fact,
nobody gets in the way on the whole album:
the little group plays this music with an
ensemble quality that has to be heard to be
Pianist Rainel Pino obtained
music degrees in Havana in 1989; he is superbly
reticent, his contributions always exactly
right, his emphasis on the melodic. And as
for Jorge Orta, who has recorded with Grupo
Niche, the Colombian band thatís been a leader
in salsa for 25 years . . . well, if you can
listen to this album without patting your
foot, you may as well lay down, because youíre
There is some overdubbing,
and itís extremely well done; here and there
Towns plays both acoustic and electric. "Star
Light" and "Espacio" are duets,
with Towns on guitar and bass, Nestor Vidal
on conventional drum kit and the Latin instruments.
"Star Light" is a good example of
the cleverness of the arrangements: it seems
to be in 3/4 time, with Vidal playing subtle
drums, then picks up steam as he overdubs
the congas and bongo. None of the arranging
is hackneyed, or just for filling space; I
cannot praise the production highly enough.
Amy Felán contributes
a single vocal phrase at the end of the first
track, evocative and lovely, as though someone
at the recording session just could not resist
getting up to dance. This is the kind of album
which, if I play it when Iíve got company,
everybody wants to know: "What is that?"
Nobody who buys this CD will regret it.