1. La Escuela
2. Serafina Del Caribe
4. Los Gatos
5. Descarga En Blue
6. Ogguere (Soul of the Earth)
8. The Peanut Vendor (El Manicero)
9. Yemaya (The Seven Seas)
10. Bebo Ya Llego!
11. Philadelphia Mambo
Wayne Wallace - Trombone, Wagner tuba, vocals
Murray Low - Piano, vocals
David Belove - Bass, vocals
Paul van Wageningen - Trap drums, vocals
Michael Spiro - Percussion, vocals
Jeff Cressman, Natalie Cressman, Dave Martell - Trombones (track 2)
Kenny Washington - Vocals (track 3)
Bobi C‚spedes - Vocals (track 8)
The presence of The Peanut Vendor on this album reminded me of Stan Kenton's classic recording of the piece in 1947, which was launched and sustained by powerful trombones. Wayne Wallace is a fine trombone player who shows how well-suited the instrument is to Latin-American tunes. Wayne's previous CD, Bien Bien, received a Grammy nomination for Best Latin Jazz Album, and this new album deserves similar recognition. For a quintet, his band makes a surprising amount of compelling music.
As well as the appeal of Wallace's trombone, there is also the remarkable variety of the percussion, which is produced by just two players: Paul van Wageningen and Michael Spiro. They conjure up a well-varied sequence of rhythms, sometimes changing the beat in the middle of a number to set a new pathway. Cuban beats can sometimes become samey but there is no danger of that on this CD. The varied styles are usefully described alongside each title on the album sleeve, embracing mambo, cha-cha, bolero and several other rhythms.
In fact all the members of the group merit namechecks: pianist Murray Low and bassist David Belove are both excellent musicians who fulfil their roles to perfection.
Wayne Wallace is quite capable of taking the lead but on Serafina Del Caribe he adds three extra trombones to make an opulent choir which blends harmoniously together. Other outstanding tracks include Perdido, which wasn't written as a mambo but works perfectly well this way, especially with Kenny Washington's appealing vocal. Descarga En Blue opens with some percussion calculated to get you dancing, while Ogguere is an intriguing piece which moves subtly from four-four to six-eight.
The Peanut Vendor sounds rather different from the Kenton version, with evocative Spanish vocals from Bobi C‚spedes. The album ends with Tito Puente's Philadelphia Mambo, which even introduces touches of free improvisation before settling into the catchy melody.
When I first encountered this CD, I thought "Oh, just another salsa album". I was wrong: it is very special.