Dr. Eugene Marlow, former corporate executive, classical composer, professor, author, holder of five degrees including an MBA and a Ph.D., might seem an improbable source for one of the best Latin jazz albums of 2007. But Marlow’s amazingly eclectic musical involvements include composing and arranging for Latin-jazz ensembles. For Wonderful Discovery he built a 13-piece orchestra around pianist Arturo O’Farrill and wrote nine strong tunes with the “Spanish tinge,” plus a hot, snaking chart for “Summertime.”
Upon the powerful, authentic rhythmic substructure provided by bassist Rubén Rodriguez, drummer Phoenix Rivera and percussionists Bobby Sanabria, Roland Guerrero and Cristian Rivera, Marlow arrays material that is thematically vivid and formally sophisticated. This project has another virtue not always found in Latin albums: variety. The most tumultuous grooves, like “Mr. O’s Groove” and “Flight,” support elegant melodies. The lyrical pieces, like “Song For an Old Soul,” still burn.
Two more reasons why this recording is successful are the soloists and the sonic quality. O’Farrill, Bobby Porcelli on alto saxophone, Mario Rivera on soprano saxophone and flute, and Jim Seely on trumpet are consistently stimulating. The dynamic, detailed, full-color sound by engineer Katherine Miller matches the music beautifully.