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Bill O’Connell: Rhapsody in Blue

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Pianist Bill O’Connell has spent most of his 30-year-plus career in the Latin jazz arena (Mongo Santamaria, Dave Valentin, Gato Barbieri, the Fort Apache Band, Conrad Herwig’s “Latin Side” projects, etc.) and it has served him well. The Latin rhythms and vitality are a strong part of his music, including this fine CD. The core band, with Luques Curtis or David Finck on bass, Steve Berrios on drums and Steve Slagle on sax, is augmented by percussionist Richie Flores, vibes player Dave Samuels and trombonist Herwig on several tracks.

One of the most intriguing is the sometimes laid-back, sometimes fiery Latin lilt given to George Gershwin’s classic “Rhapsody in Blue.” There’s a lot to like here, including seven O’Connell originals. Check it out. Then repeat. I’m betting you will, because it’s that strong.

Originally Published