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Hevia: The Other Side

This is an exciting album, filled with good charts, well executed, cleanly recorded and saturated with the spirit of Tito Puente. The only reason it was called The Other Side and not “Titorama,” (both are titles of tracks) is because SYOTOS stands for “see you on the other side.”

Washburne played with Puente for a long time, and one has a feeling the trombonist is referring to their inevitable reunion wherever heavenly gigs are staged: Tito died just before he was supposed to record with Washburne for the SYOTOS’ second release.

There isn’t a weak track here. Each provides that infectious fusion of hard-edged jazz over sensuous Latin rhythm. Washburne is a driving soloist and his writing frequently reflects a sense of pushing the envelope, with voicings that create a big-band sound.

Among solo highlights: the dialogue between trumpeters John Walsh and Ray Vega (both have played lead in Puente’s orchestra) on “Titorama”; Harvie Swartz’s cello-range bass solo on “Mamborama” and his double stops on the wild, orgiastic “Caonao”; the poignant wailing of Walsh and tenorist Ole Mathisen on the ballad “Deep Song”; the instant switching from extended bop harmonies to montuno by pianist Barry Olsen in “Methane Mambo”; the unabashed bop-line writing and playing by Washburne on the title track; the tight clusters of “New Beginnings”; and the hypnotic effect of “Now What?”

On that last track, a tap-dance solo by Max Pollak is virtually obscured by the expanded percussion; so much is going on rhythmically.

Originally Published