Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Jim Self and The Tricky Lix Latin Jazz Band !Yo!

Jim Self and The Tricky Lix Latin Jazz Band
Basset Hound Music

What a wonderful new release by tuba player Jim Self and The Tricky Lix Latin Jazz Band. The title "!Yo!" is a translation of self, and the release is a terrific latin jazz recording unusually anchored by Self's Tuba (and on two selections the Fluba, a big tuba sized flugelhorn). Self is a long-time studio musician who can be heard on over 1500 movie scores (his tuba projected those galactic tones as the Voice of Mothership in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”). he has also done a variety of projects and this release is his 13th album. For this, he has brought together a “who’s who” of young West Coast Latin Jazz Musicians (most of whom are on the great Poncho Sanchez Band). Foremost is trombonist/composer/arranger Francisco Torres who produced, wrote or arranged much of the music. The other players (mostly from the great Poncho Sanchez band) are Ron Blake: Trumpet/Flugelhorn; Rob Hardt: Tenor and Soprano Saxes/Flute; Andy Langham: Piano; Rene Camacho: String Bass; Joey De Leon: Timbales, Batá, Shekere; Giancarlo Anderson: Congas and George Ortiz: Bongos.

Evident on the opening mambo by Eddie Cano "Cal's Pals," dedicated to the great Cal Tjader, is the marvelous arrangements that are fluently played with marvelous solos from trumpeter Blake, Self on tuba, Hardt on tenor sax and De Leon on Timbales. The music is bright, lively and bouncy resulting in an infectious performance that is characteristic of the entire recording. The classic "Poinciana," has the ensemble's seamless rendering of Curt Berg's arrangement to frame the leader's solo. In addition to the warmth of the horns, the mix of rhythm with the horns lends such a relaxed feel to this very charming performance. Even when the groove is kicked up a notch, as on Torres' mambo, "For Charlie," there is an relaxed, yet exhilarating quality as Torres on trombone and Self on tuba play a duet before each solos. Self's own "Encognito," is a slow cha-cha with Blake's trumpet solo followed by Self on fluba.

Torres' "Sweetest Blue" is a spicy Afro-Cuban number with a delightful tropical groove, with a choice soprano sax solo from Hardt, an intricate piano solo from Langham and a Batá solo by De Leon and followed by the calmness of his lovely "Quiero Liegar," with Self playing the melody before some gorgeous trombone and piano. Self composed the title track which is a cheerful, and lovely, cha cha. An invigorating interpretation of Tito Puente's "Old Arrival," with a robust trombone solo and the three percussionists trading eights is followed by the closing track, Clare Fischer's "Morning," with an arrangement by Bill Cunliffe and solos by Rob Hardt on flute and Self on Fluba, after which Stanley the Bassett Hound howls to end this latest Basset Hound recording.

"!Yo!" is a complete listening delight. Like New Orleans Brass bands, and Howard Johnson and Gravity (also known as the horns of Taj Mahal's Tuba Band), Jim Self's performances on tuba exhibit imagination and fluidity that far transcend any novelty, and with the superb ensemble and arrangements here, has provided an album of Latin jazz easy to listen to and full of joy.

I received my review copy from a publicist. This review appeared originally in the November-December 2016 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 369). Here is a track from "!Yo!"

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