The Caribbean Jazz Project: Island Stories

Woodwind wizard Paquito D’Rivera, steel pan perfectionist Andy Narell and vibes viscount Dave Samuels form the Project’s core, while pianist Dario Eskenazi, drummer Mark Walker, bassist Oscar Stagnaro and percussionist Pernell Saturnino round out the ensemble.

From the opening moments of the first track (D’Rivera’s “Bluelles Pie,” a grooving blues with a vamp turnaround), the triumvirate responsible leaves little question that this album’s material has been thoroughly Latinized for their listeners’ protection. In addition to the three principals’ acute improvisational abilities, each contributed compositions; Samuels’ “Sadie’s Dance” features a catchy head that sets the stage for the vibrant, extended solos, while Narell’s “Shadow Play” provides a lyrical improvisational vehicle. But the group also casts its net wide by including Ernesto Lecuona’s “Andalucia” and Astor Piazzolla’s “Libertango,” which fuse a broad array of musical values, including formal composition and jazz. And as if the music-one of the hippest Latin jazz outings in recent memory-weren’t enough, the CD, which can be viewed via CD-ROM, includes video footage, an interview and a group biography.