January/February 1997

Don Grolnick
Medianoche
Warner Brothers

This posthumous release by pianist Don Grolnick, who passed away in June at the age of 48, is an impressive Latin jazz recording. "Medianoche," with its simmering, contained rhythms, and the presence of Mike Mainieri on vibes, has a Tjader-like quality. The rhythm section includes percussionists Don Alias, Steve Berrios, and Milton Cardona, and bassist/co-producer Andy Gonzalez. Michael Brecker plays tenor and Dave Valentin, flute. Four of the ten selections are Grolnick compositions. Grolnick's bold and original playing has just the right degree of Latin inflection. "Catta" has a perfect pairing of piano and percussion, and a fine flute solo by Dave Valentin. Valentin brings unusual muscularity and variety to his instrument, as his solo on "If Ever I Should Leave You" proves. Brecker, commanding throughout, plays hard-edged on Wayne Shorter's "Water Babies" and Horace Silver's "Cape Verdean Blues." His solo on "Rainsville," while brief, is consummate. Every selection is infectious and classy on this beautifully realized project. - Marcela Breton

Originally published in January/February 1997
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