Vibist Dave Pike has hardly received the recognition he has long deserved. An uneven recording career has produced some discs now considered classics and even a minor "hit" or two. So it is a pleasant surprise that Pike may finally be hitting his stride, or at least finally getting his due exposure. A couple of years back Bophead reestablished his mastery of a repertoire of mostly standards; this year's Carnavals (Milestone) is a reissue of two Latin-oriented gems from the early '60s New Jazz vaults. And this disc offers an interesting contrast to the New Jazz sides: a generous glimpse of his current fluency in the Latin language-and fluent he is, flaunting a technique that is nonnegotiable. Pike is at the top of his form. And the mostly staccato character of his vibes and marimba is tailor-made for the music's syncopated, often rolling melodic lines.
The sadly missed Cal Tjader may have set the standard for vibes in the Latin jazz context, but this set proves that Pike is well on his way to filling the void.