Seattle may be home to expensive coffee and software moguls, but it too has embraced the multicultural sound of Latin jazz fused with Cuban timba and more, as evidenced by the debut of Costa Rican vocalist Carlos Cascante. Produced, recorded and arranged by pianist Julio Jáuregui, Recuerdos is a surprisingly diverse and upbeat collection of jazz-inspired Cuban rhythms, with Cascante providing solid lead vocals along with a host of special guests including trumpeter Ray Vega, bassist Joe Santiago, trombonist Doug Beavers, saxophonist Ted Dortch and conguero Paoli Mejías.
Rounding out the ensemble are Dean Schmidt on bass, Jeff Busch on drums, Frank Medina on congas and trumpeter Thomas Marriott, who is the focus of Jáuregui’s swinging tune “Tomasito.” New takes on Latin standards such as Pedro Flores’ “Obsesión” and Antonio Fernández’s “Al Vaivén de mi Carreta” are injected with more modern harmony while the solid rhythm section keeps everything danceable, especially Santiago’s rock-solid tumbaos. Vega sprinkles bop-latino magic on the Cascante-Jáuregui tune “El Negro Tiene Tumbao,” which flirts with a timba-like montuno and some funky bass-playing by Dean Schmidt.
With Jáuregui at the helm, Cascante’s Recuerdos is a very enjoyable ride in the company of fine musicians.