Birds of a Feather
A brassier, busier and a wee bit more aggressively urban Caribbean Jazz Project is featured on Birds of a Feather (Concord Picante). Dave Samuels is now leading this new lineup with Ray Vega on trumpet, Dario Eskenazi on piano and special guests guitarist Romero Lubambo, trumpeter Randy Brecker, drummer Mark Walker and percussionist Cafe. Bassist Ruben Rodriguez, percussionist Robert Quintero and drummer Dafnis Prieto round out the gang. The Brazilian "Valencia 1," with flutelike melodic harmonization, Lubambo's rapid note firings and a jazzy and percussively correct trumpet solo, is just a sampling of what the tropical-inflected crew can do in that territory. They are just as meritorious in their other Carioca explorations on "Turnabout" and "Picture Frame." Headed by a custom-made danzon figure, "Weird Nightmare" romps into an oddly metered sizzle, while on "Blue" everyone shines through in an updated guaguanco that fades into a hypermodern percussive coda skin slapping passage. The writing must be commended through and through. It brings forth fresh vistas from familiar Latin outcroppings and the supergroup readily assimilates its superior level. This is a cooker of a release, with depth to boot, fortified by great melodicism and peerless changes.