Let me start by saying that if your idea of jazz does not include “outside” influences, then forget it, if you think that there can be a “pure” form of jazz, then go somewhere else. This recording is one of the earlier truly equal marriages of jazz and Latin music, where both parts work together, and the playing is fantastic! The whole band works as one unit, no small feat when there are two (beautifully understated when that is what’s required) trombones and one singer.
With this recording, Carmen McRae continues the well established tradition (see Billie Holiday, Cassandra Wilson, Christian McBride etc etc etc) of taking pop songs and giving them a new workout. She takes Evil Ways, originally by Tjader’s former band member Willie Bobo, and gives it the sultriest rendition I have ever heard, and her versions of Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing, All is Fair and Heat Wave have real personality and warmth. (Possibly the only downside for me is McRae’s vocals on Besame Mucho, but I only noticed the problem since I began learning Spanish!)
Cal Tjader executes one of the best solos of his recorded career on Evil Ways, and plays with great sensitivity on Upside Down and Besame Mucho. This was the last album Tjader made before he died, and when conguero Poncho Sanchez then struck out on his own, he took part of the band with him. Who could blame him? These guys can really play!
The repertoire swings from jazz to Latin, deliacte (Upside Down, All is Fair), to powerful (Love, Evil Ways) and everybody handles everything easily, including the merengue interpretation of Love with the drum kit playing a modification of a standard jazz patterns, as well as all the Latin-izing. And what a wonderful change it is to hear Latin jazz album that is not purely Cuban or Brazilian influenced, but takes ideas and rhythms from a few places. The recording quality is smooth and clear, everthing you could possibly want is right here.
Jazz? No. Latin jazz? You bet, and awesome Latin jazz at that!
01 – Heat Wave
02 – All in Love is Fair
03 – Besame Mucho
04 – Evil Ways
05 – Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me
06 – Love
07 – Upside Down (Flor de Lis)
08 – The Visit
09 – Speak Low
10 – Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing
Cal Tjader – vibes
Carmen McRae – vocals
Mashall Otwell, Mark Levine – piano
Rob Fisher – bass
Vince Lateano – drums
Poncho Sanchez – congas and percussion
Ramon Banda – timbales and percussion
Al Bent, Mike Heathman – trombone
Recorded at Coast Recorders, San Francisco, California, January 1982.
Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork