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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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CamJazz CAMJ 7788-2


1. Tango Azul
2. Viva
3. Afroraffo
4. El Camino
5. Blues for Jimmy
6. 40/40
7. Sound for Sore Ears
8. Adios Nonino
9. Gringo Dance
10. Emilia

Diego Urcola – Trumpet, flugelhorn
Edward Simon – Piano
Avishai Cohen – Bass
Antonio Sanchez - Drums
Pernell Saturnino – Percussion (tracks 2-4, 6, 7, 9, 10)
Jimmy Heath – Tenor sax (tracks 5, 7)
Paquito D’Rivera – Alto sax, clarinet (tracks 3, 6, 10)
Conrad Herwig – Trombone (tracks 1, 4, 5, 9)
Dave Samuels – Marimba, vibes (tracks 3, 8)
Emilia Urcola – Voice (track 10)

Argentinian trumpeter Diego Urcola, now resident in New York, is not well-known in Britain but he plays in groups led by Paquito D’Rivera and Dave Samuels and this album (his third CD) has an all-star cast. You might expect a set of Latin jazz from an Argentinian musician but there is a surprisingly wide range of styles on this album.

The first two tracks are rather mournful, with Diego’s trumpet leading you to realise why he has been compared to Miles Davis, since he often has a similar "little boy lost" sound. But Afroraffo perks things up, with Paquito D’Rivera’s bright alto sax and Dave Samuels guesting on marimba. We return to mournfulness with El Camino, as Conrad Herwig’s trombone states a sad theme.

Blues for Jimmy brings another contrast – a beboppish blues featuring Jimmy Heath blending jauntily with Diego. Conrad Herwig contributes a muscular solo and then joins with Jimmy and Diego in swapping fluent fours with drummer Antonio Sanchez.

We are back in Miles Davis territory again with 40/40 in a gentle tango rhythm, introduced delicately by Diego and decorated by Paquito’s clear-toned clarinet. It unexpectedly segues into a bustling samba, with Diego soloing on flugel and then the clarinet riding uninhibitedly over the band. Jimmy Heath’s composition Sound for Sore Ears has a Latin feel but occasionally slips into four-four, with Diego’s masterly trumpet sounding very Cuban and pianist Edward Simon soloing lucidly in Latin-American style.

Dave Samuels returns on vibes for Astor Piazzolla’s Adios Nonino, with both Urcola and Samuels bringing out the poignancy of the piece. Gringo Dance has an intriguing rhythm which seems to shift from one beat to another. The final track is Emilia, with its dedicatee - Urcola’s young daughter Emilia - gurgling in the background (shades of Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely?). Diego’s flugelhorn blends seamlessly with Paquito’s clarinet – but then they have played together for many years.

Viva is a vivacious and varied album. I don’t recall noticing Diego Urcola particularly before but I’ll listen out for him from now on.

Tony Augarde


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