The press release pack that I received with this album contains some quite grandiose claims such as the release has as its opening track “what may possibly be the most exciting interpretation of the Ellington associated classic, ‘Caravan’, and that has ever been recorded.” So let’s start at the beginning with the exuberant high energy version of ‘Caravan’: this is a full on big band cover of an oft recorded classic but, for me, somehow lacks the excitement I get from hearing Michel Petrucciani’s live solo version. However, as a live show opener it would certainly get the audience going.
The tracks that would be classed as Latin standards such as ‘Capullito De Aleli’, ‘Puerto Rico’, and ‘Amazonas’ come across well with a good balance between the big band sound and the soloists – all of whom play their parts well. The tunes such as ‘Genie In A Bottle’, ‘Spooky’, and ‘Do It Again’, for me, do not work so well – though I have to say that I did enjoy the tenor sax solo of Peter Brainin on ‘Spooky’ – and that, in a large part, is down to the lack of conviction in the lyrics and the way they were put across: I simply did not feel it. I then went back to ‘I Love You Porgy’ (an oft covered Gershwin number) and while the Latin vibed arrangement came across well I was, again, left feeling underwhelmed by the vocal delivery, which sounded more like a Las Vegas show-tune than a heart felt declaration of love (however, the audience appeared to love it so maybe it is just me).
I had high hopes for this album when I first received the press pack and music files as I love hearing a Big Band sound, I also very much enjoy the Latin style of jazz and its wonderful rhythms. Unfortunately, this release just did not work for me. The musicianship is there, the rhythms are there but it all sounded a little too rehearsed, a touch too clean, a tad too heavy on the showmanship from Bobby Sanabria. One other consideration is, of course, that this is a live recording and I am rarely convinced that they can capture the spirit and atmosphere of a live performance and perhaps that is what is missing on the CD release.
Rhythm: Bobby Sanabria – musical director, drums, mounted bells, wind chimes, background vocals, vocal exclamations; Oreste Abrantes – congas, lead and background vocals; Matthew Gonzalez – bongó/cencerro (hand bongó bell), barril de bomba, requinto pandereta, ganza, Puerto Rican guicharo, agogo, background vocals; Takao Heisho – Cuban guiro, agogo bells, claves, cuica, pandeiro, maracas, shekere, tambourine, background vocals; Darwin Noguera – piano; Leo Traversa – electric bass
Saxophones: David Dejesus – lead alto, soprano; Andrew Gould – alto; Peter Brainin – tenor, also maracas on ‘Spooky’ and ‘Do It Again’; Jeff Lederer – tenor; Danny Rivera – baritone
Trumpets: Max Darché – lead; Matt Hilgenberg, Jonathan Challoner, Andrew Neesley,
Trombones: Dave Miller – lead, Noah Bless, Armando Vergara, Chris Washburne – bass trombone.
Electric violin: Ben Sutin.
Flute: Gabrielle Garo.
Lead and background vocals: Janis Siegel, Antoinette Montague, Jennifer Jade Ledesna
Tracklist: For the full track list, including composers and soloists just follow the link to the Bobby Sanabria website.