Caribbean Jazz Project: New Horizons

As the sole remaining member of the original Caribbean Jazz Project and one of the album’s principal composers, vibes and marimba player Dave Samuels is at the core of New Horizons. Teamed now with flutist Dave Valentin and guitarist Steve Khan plus bassist John Benitez, and percussionists Richie Flores and Robert Vilera, the CJP is actually a new band with a new sound. The vibes and flute combine to create a gentle breeze on Khan’s tropical opener “Descarga Canelon.” Meanwhile, Khan’s guitar stealthily threatens the tranquillity with its sharper edge. An important contributing factor to the overall feel of the album is the absence of a trap set. With the explosive Flores and Vilera in the mix, it is certainly not missed and seems to free the musicians from any predictability. The music rhythmically moves to the African continent for Samuel’s “Ivory Coast” and then takes a fresh look at “A Night in Tunisia.” Traveling around the African diaspora, the worlds and influences of the music often collide in the realm of creative improvisation as heard on Khan’s “Safe and Sound.” The walls come tumbling down as Flores and Vilera take off on their own super-sonic “Rompiendo Hielo en 2000.” Samuels soon jumps into the fracas and becomes the heartbeat to the intensity of the drums.