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Bobby Matos Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble: Beautiful as the Moon

Percussionist Bobby Matos is the leader, but this is a full ensemble outing featuring equivalent contributions from Pablo Calogero (tenor sax and flute), Danny Weinstein (trombone and violin) and Theo Saunders (piano), along with Matos (timbales) and conguero Robertito Melendez. Bassist John B. Williams is a deft soloist as well, and throughout the set his rhythmic sureness keeps everything on an even keel.

The uptempo offerings are graced with a lightness of texture that challenges “Latin fire” stereotypes. On “Maramoor Mambo,” for instance, Calogero’s opening legato tenor line evokes a feeling of ease, although in his solo he’s a little more acerbic and spiked; in the big-band tradition, he combines danceability with high-art improvisational imagination. Saunders’ piano work is both rhythmically and melodically insistent, and his symphonic whole-keyboard facility never detracts from the clarity or logic of his lines. Trombonist Weinstein sometimes articulates a little less crisply than the others, but his imagination soars.

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