Thursday, March 5, 2009

Wayne Wallace: The Nature of the Beat

Patois Records
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 3.5.09
Buy CD: The Nature of the Beat

Fans of Latin big band jazz are certain to enjoy this album.

The leader of this group, Wayne Wallace, composes, arranges and plays trombone and Wagner tuba. He has worked with name bands (Count Basie, Lionel Hampton) and artists (Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder). He's conversant with (to use his terminology) “the three genres of the Music of The Americas: jazz, R&B and Latin jazz.” The latter format is featured on this release.

This is a genuinely large unit: more than a dozen instrumentalists and almost as many supporting vocalists. The 10 tracks include Latin jazz, Latin funk, timba and timba-funk, bolero, cha cha, Cuban funk and orisha variations. Wallace wrote several cuts; artists such as Herbie Hancock and Teddy Powell contributed others.

The most interesting arrangements, however, are based on Gershwin's “Fascinatin' Rhythm” and Gerry Mulligan's “Jeru,” both of which sound great in this Latin translation.

This album is strong, and the musicians and vocalists provide as good a Latin “feel” as I've heard in awhile. Get out the rum, mix up some of those feel-good cocktails, and practice your dance steps ... then put on this CD and par-tay!

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