On Latinbird, which is exactly what it says it is, alto saxophonist T.K. Blue gets the recipe right. He picks some great Charlie Parker tunes (plus two originals and “‘Round Midnight”), gives them skillful Latin arrangements of all varieties, and assembles a crack ensemble of pianist Theo Hill, bassist Essiet Okon Essiet, drummer Willie Martinez and percussionist Roland Guerrero to perform them. So why does the album feel so utterly bland? For starters, the material is such well-trodden ground that there is little left to do with it. Bird’s oeuvre has been rendered as Latin jazz-not least by Bird himself-such that there’s really no novelty here. (A Caribbean-spiced version of a tune called “Barbados”? Who’d have guessed?) And what new insight is to be gained from yet another straight Latin reading of “Donna Lee” or “‘Round Midnight”?
Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.