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Richie Cole: Latin Lover (RCP)

Review of Latin-themed album from veteran alto saxophonist

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Cover of Richie Cole album Latin Lover
Cover of Richie Cole album Latin Lover

For his first-ever all-Latin collection in a career closing in on a half-century, the alto saxophonist Richie Cole doesn’t pretend to rewrite his own history or that of the genre. There are no congas here, just a basic jazz quintet with its own ideas about what Latin means. The accents are tucked unobtrusively into the arrangements. Hell, if he’d wanted authenticity, he likely wouldn’t have started the set with The Wizard of Oz’s “If I Only Had a Brain.”

That offbeat choice is, in fact, among the highlights of Latin Lover: The Arlen-Harburg perennial swings briskly, Cole’s sprightly alto and Vince Taglieri’s spirited drumming giving the tune a good-natured lilt. Cole’s other cover choices are equally novel—the Neil Sedaka hit “Laughter in the Rain” has never sounded like this before, and the Lerner-Loewe standard “Almost Like Being in Love” provides a showcase for the stellar guitar work of Eric Susoeff. The 1962 Herb Alpert hit “The Lonely Bull,” the only tune augmented by outside players and vocalists, is utterly transformed, its tempo notched down and an air of mystery embedded within the melody.

Cole’s few originals add further dimension to the program. “Girl From Carnegie” isn’t as far from the beaches of Ipanema as its title suggests, while “Malibu Breeze,” with its underplayed interplay between Cole, Taglieri, bassist Mark Perna and Kevin Moore on the Rhodes, will have you packing for that long-craved warm-weather vacation. Sweetest of all, perhaps, is the tender sway that pilots the Debussy-inspired “L’Eclipse de Lune,” where Cole’s genial sax tone and the clarity of Susoeff’s acoustic guitar ooze coziness.

Preview, buy or download songs from the album Latin Lover by Richie Cole on iTunes.



Originally Published