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Hilary Noble: Noble Savage

Boston-based saxophonist-percussionist-composer Hilary Noble has served as sideman with a number of well-known groups, including that of Latin-jazz drummer Bobby Sanabria. For his first album of his own, Noble recruited Sanabria’s services-along with Sanabria’s pianist, John Di Marino, and bassist, Boris Kozlov-and focused on his own fusing of Afro-Caribbean forms and rhythms with postbop jazz. He also brought in electric pianist Andy McWain for couple of tracks and New Orleans sopranoist Charles Neville to assist on three.

Although not all the charts are Latin-Noble’s affecting ballad “Relapse” being one of several examples of the performers’ straight jazz skills-the program features such Cuban forms or rhythms as mozambique, bembe, rumba and guaracha as well as Dominican merengue, Brazilian samba and Venezuelan joropo. The rhythmic texture of these pieces is consistently thick and rich and can produce an irresistibly propulsive momentum. Sanabria and his rhythm section are experts at this, but Noble fits in with them easily. He contributes on various percussion instruments, most often congas, as well as on his several saxophones, even overdubbing soprano, alto and tenor parts on one track. He also composed most of the pieces.

While the excitement of the Latin rhythmic ambience is the recording’s most striking feature, several very fine improvised solos also contribute to its appeal.

Originally Published