Bop meets blues meets Latin is an act of musical juggling, but the new release by trumpeter Jim Seeley and pianist Arturo O’Farrill keeps all those styles flying. The pairing of Kansas native Seeley with Latin jazz veterans might also seem a tough balancing act, but this quintet pulls it off as well.
The rhythm section makes up the core of the Lincoln Center Latin Jazz Ensemble, but their Latin touch is more subdued here. On “Little General,” though, they strut their stuff, upping the Latin pulse with blistering solos all around. On the lovely “Starry Night,” sax player Jed Levy blows elegant Latin-style flute. But the spirit of the blues, and bop, appears more strongly on the other tracks. On “New Meaning” a funky bass line strolls along unhurriedly under long bop solos. “Truth Juice,” dedicated to Art Blakey, poises the legendary intensity of the hard-bop drummer beside the Afro-Cuban clave learned, no doubt, from O’Farrill’s father, famed bandleader Chico. These eight originals, all by Seeley, are filled with all the energy of a new generation rediscovering the best of the past.
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