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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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ˇBien Bien!

Patois PRC 009



1. ˇBien Bien!
2. Freedom Jazz Dance
3. Mojito Café
4. Building Bridges
5. In a Sentimental Mood
6. Playa Negra
7. Going Up!
8. Solid
9. Africa

Wayne Wallace - Trombone, vocals
Murray Low - Piano, vocals
Michael Spiro - Percussion, vocals
David Belove - Bass, vocals
Paul van Wageningen - Trap drums, vocals
Julian Priester, Dave Martell - Trombones
Kenny Washington, Orlando Torriente - Vocals
David Chaidez, Alexa Weber Morales, Karen Aczon, Sakai, Jody Noble, Sheryl Lynn Thomas, Ron Stallings - Background vocals


An old song called Dry Bones includes the line "Dem bones, dem bones, gonna walk around". This CD reminded me of that line, because the album is full of trombones walking around with power as well as grace. These are the very opposite of "dry bones".

Wayne Wallace is a San Franciscan trombonist and his guests on the album include two other trombonists, of whom the best-known is Julian Priester, who has played with everyone from Duke Ellington to Sun Ra, and from John Coltrane to Johnny Griffin. So this album will undoubtedly appeal to trombone enthusiasts but it will also attract lovers of Latin Jazz, since that is the predominant style throughout. Having said that, the style varies from straight Latin Jazz, via Bomba, Bolero and Cha-Cha-Cha, to Cu-Bop.

This makes for an interestingly varied album, especially as the tunes are chosen from very diverse sources. As well as three originals by Wayne Wallace, there are compositions by Eddie Harris (Freedom Jazz Dance), Sonny Rollins (Solid), John Coltrane (Africa) and two pieces by Duke Ellington. The first of the Ellington numbers is In a Sentimental Mood, which has some thoughtful ballad soloing from Wallace and pianist Murray Low, with just a hint of Latin rhythms in the background. The other Ducal tune is the catchy Going Up! - also known as Floor Show - which Ellington recorded several times, especially in the early 1940s. It makes a gutsy piece of Latin Jazz, with improvisations from all three trombonists, including some nice plunger mute from Wayne.

Vocalists Orlando Torriente and Kenny Washington (not the drummer of the same name) appear on Freedom Jazz Dance, backed by a vigorous choir. Torriente sings in Spanish and Washington in English, with plenty of jazzy scatting along the way. The group brings out the bluesiness implicit in Sonny Rollins's Solid (fine piano here from Murray Low) and John Coltrane's Africa is given a novel but sympathetic treatment. One of my favourite tracks is Playa Negra (a Wallace original whose title refers to a surfer's beach in Costa Rica) - which has a gentle trotting rhythm.

When I first started listening to this album, I thought "Oh, just another dose of salsa!". However, as I got into it, I realised that this is not any old serving of salsa but a mixed grill with plenty of sauce.

Tony Augarde

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