Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ray Obiedo Latin Jazz Project Vol. 1

Ray Obiedo
Latin Jazz Project Vol. 1
Rhythmus Records

Those wanting an easy to listen to album of straightforward Latin Jazz need go no further than the new album from guitarist and composer, Ray Obiedo, "Latin Jazz Project Vol. 1." Obiedo comes from the San Francisco Bay area where the sounds of Miles Davis, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Henry Mancini and Motown helped form his early musical persona, which later was further shaped by the James Brown revue. His career has included stints with Johnny Hammond Smith, then touring with trombonist Julian Priester, followed by a long association with the great percussionist Pete Escovedo and whose daughter Sheila was part of his funk/fusion band. Sheila and her brother Peter Michael Escovedo participate on this session which also includes Santana members David K. Mathews, Karl Perazzo and Jeff Cressman, Yellowjackets reedman Bob Mintzer, flutists Elena Pinderhughes and Roger Glenn, trumpeter Ray Vega, timbale master Orestes Vilató, vocalist Sandy Cressman, sax and flute player Norbert Stachel, steel pan player Phil Hawkins, and brothers Marc and Paul van Wageningen on bass and drums.

Included here are Latin Jazz standards and three Obiedo originals are this album starting with the rendition of Tito Puente's "Picadillo" with Glenn's flute and Matthews piano standing out along with the leader on acoustic guitar and Peter Michael Escovedo on congas and timbales. it sets the breezy for this album that has more of a controlled heat than jet engine bursts of energy. Pinderhughes' flute along with the wordless vocalizing of Cressman are featured on Walter Bishop's "Coral Keys," followed by Stachel's serpentine soprano sax featured on a lively rendition of the Ellington-Tizol classic "Caravan." A spirited interpretation of Sonny Rollins' "St. Thomas," includes the Hawkins' steel pans, the leader's intriguing single note runs and Stachel's dancing tenor sax along with a a percussion heavy segment with the piano and steel pans comping. Obiedo's original, "Cubo Azul," is a latin-accented hard-bop styled number that Mintzer's tenor is featured on, while flutist Roger Glenn contributed "Santa Cruz," a saucy number with a strong Afro-Cuban foundation as Vega's trumpet and Cressman's trombone provide support for Glenn's soloing here and Matthews takes a strong solo on piano here while there is a short, uncredited vocal break as well, while Vega takes flight leading this performance to a fade.

"Latin Jazz Project Vol. 1" closes with a percussion duet between Sheila E and her brother Peter Michael Escovedo, concluding a solid and very engaging recording.

I received my review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the November-December 2016 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 369). Here is some vintage Ray Obiedo.

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