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September 2003

Lalo Schifrin
Ins and Outs and Lalo Live at the Blue Note
Aleph Records

It would be an exercise in futility to capture all the facets of a musical Renaissance cat like Lalo Schifrin, but within the parameters of these two albums, Aleph reveals the ease with which Schifrin changes gears so effortlessly: from Afro-Cuban jazz, in "Chano," an homage to both his mentor, Dizzy Gillespie, and Cuban conga drummer, Chano Pozo; to "Ritual," an excerpt from Schifrin's extended work "Latin Jazz Suite," which, like the title, accommodates both genres even-handedly. Those two tracks, which cover nearly half the CD, were recorded live in New York in 2002 to celebrate Schifrin's 70th birthday and contain outstanding solo playing by Dizzy's direct descendant, trumpeter Jon Faddis, Dick Oates on sax and flute, bassist Ray Drummond and drummer Grady Tate.

The remaining eight tracks, excerpted from Schifrin's 1982 recording Ins And Outs, are highlighted by two examples of themes from his prolific film-scoring, "Down Here on the Ground" and "The Fox"; classics such as "Manteca" and "Con Alma," and above all, the hard-driving interplay between Schifrin and flutist Sam Most and the firm walking of bassist Andy Simpkins on the title tune. A tender ballad becomes an intense vehicle for Schifrin's pianistics, "Love Poem for Donna," which the pianist wrote for his wife. The most sensuous melody comes from Heitor Villa Lobos, who created about a dozen gems between 1930 and 1940 called "Bachianas Brasileiras"-a heady fusion of Bach and Brazil. Here it's "Brazilian Impressions" and is enhanced by Most's flute obbligato and the full-bodied playing of "Cool Hand" Lalo.

Originally published in September 2003
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