Despite the title, the musical direction of this 2004 recording isn’t Latin jazz. Instead, the real foundation of this session goes back to the Wes Montgomery Trio, circa 1955 in Indianapolis. That edition of the guitarist’s group featured drummer “Killer” Ray Appleton and Hammond B3 organ player Melvin Rhyne.
Joined here by the great Latin percussionist Milton Cardonas and up-and-coming guitarist Ilya Lushtak, Appleton and Rhyne lead a laid-back excursion through a mixed bag of material ranging from a couple of swinging Rhyne originals, standards like “I’ll Take Romance” and “The Very Thought of You,” Dizzy Gillespie’s “Blue ’n’ Boogie” and an energetic take on that old warhorse, “Tequila.”
Unlike a lot of B3 players, Rhyne takes a musical direction that’s decidedly more bop- than blues-oriented, adding plenty of interesting variations to his B3 grooves. Cardona’s presence on congas allows Appleton room to shine on cymbals—and the pair meld to create a rhythmic groove that finds a nice balance point between bop and Latin jazz.
Add sparkling versions of Montgomery classics such as “Cariba” and “Full House” and you’ve got a strong recording that serves as a fitting reminder of the underappreciated talents of Rhyne and Appleton.