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Marlon Simon: The Music of Marlon Simon & the Nagual Spirits

Several big names are on this Latin jazz release by Venezuelan timbalero/drummer Marlon Simon: altoist Bobby Watson, tenorist John Stubblefield, trumpeter Brian Lynch, and conguero Jerry Gonzalez. The rhythm section boasts John Benitez and Joe Santiago, alternating on bass, Roberto Quintero on congas, Wilson Corniel on chekere, and the gifted pianist, Edward Simon, Marlon’s brother. The ten tunes display the talents of these musicians in various formats, from the trio setting of “Hard Times With Nena,” on up to the septet heard on “Heidi.” Seven numbers were composed by Marlon Simon. They combine appealing melodies, intriguing harmonies, and rhythmic intensity. “Root Medley” and “Remembrance” are distinguished by their abstract, intelligent arrangements. Other tunes are “Dance of the Infidels,” the bolero “Como Fue,” with the husky vocals of Joanna Marie, and the eponymous “Para Pucho,” composed by Pucho Lopez.

What makes this release satisfying is hearing the formulas of Latin jazz being stretched without sacrificing the music’s listenability.

Originally Published