Trombonist and composer Rick Davies may not have the name recognition associated with the major East Coast Latin trombone players, as his primary contributions in the field of Afro-Cuban music surround his scholarly research and publications on Cuban trumpet techniques. Nevertheless, his association with a number of Vermont and New York-based groups has kept him busy, not to mention his duties as assistant professor at Plattsburgh State University. Siempre Salsa is his latest recording in addition to his work with Bronx-based Salsa Picante, and features a variety of configurations—from sextet to big band—as well as two cuts with the Salsa Picante band.
While this recording demonstrates a slightly pedestrian approach to jazz-players-gone-Latin, his love and enthusiasm for the art form are important to furthering academia’s advocacy of nuestra música. The opening instrumental track “Cena Para Seis” begins the album with a spirited Latin-jazz feel, but the subsequent vocal and big-band tunes end up sounding mismatched. This effort plays somewhat like a recital of a collegiate big band, and the smaller ensemble vocal tunes feature coros so drenched in reverb and delay they might as well have been used in Jamaican dub sessions. Those missteps aside, Davies’ academic and literary contributions are certainly worthy of our support and admiration.