The Latin-jazz world is a parallel universe to “pure” jazz. Many important musicians cross back and forth between the two (some of them several times a day). Yet many hardcore jazz people quietly assume that jazz is art and Latin is party music.
Bill O’Connell has been one of the leading non-Latino practitioners of Latin jazz since the 1970s. He has collaborated with Mongo Santamaria, Dave Valentin, Paquito D’Rivera, Jerry González and Astrud Gilberto. He also leads his own Latin Jazz All-Stars. His new album reveals a blithe disregard for the presumptive border between Latin and straight-ahead jazz. It is a solo piano recital, beautifully recorded in the excellent acoustics of the Carnegie-Farian Room, a 100-seat space in the Nyack Library in Nyack, N.Y.