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The Bronx Horns: Silver in the Bronx

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On its second recording, The Bronx Horns pays homage to pianist-composer Horace Silver with 10 Latin-jazz interpretations of Silver favorites arranged by Ray Vega, Marty Sheller, Oscar Hernandez and others.

Led by tenor saxophonist-flutist Mitch Frohman, the eight-musician ensemble serves up splendidly blended, danceable horn arrangements performed by Vega (trumpet/flugelhorn) and Bobby Porcelli (alto sax). Frohman, Vega and Porcelli first collaborated as the brass section of Mongo Santamaria’s band (1988-1992), then together moved to The Tito Puente Orchestra where they remained as featured musicians until Puente’s death last year. Rhythm support from veterans Oscar Hernandez (piano), and Bernie Minoso (bass), Johnny Rodriguez (bongos, bell, guiro), Jimmy Delgado (timbales) and Wilson “Chembo” Corniel (congas, chekere) adds crucial percussive flair.

The tidy arrangements expertly meld Afro-Caribbean beats to jazz, feature crisp horn-section playing and provide solid foundations for imaginative solos from Frohman, Vega and Porcelli. Although instrumentation here is similar to Puente’s band, the horns predominate, shimmering with heat and exuberance as they translate Silver favorites such as “Sister Sadie,” “Senor Blues,” “The Preacher” and “Filthy McNasty” into cha-cha-cha, mambo and other exhilarating Latin beats, while maintaining the original melodies.

Originally released on Timeless, this impeccable studio date made in 1997 is a remarkable showcase for one of the tightest-sounding Latin-jazz units and a fitting tribute to Horace Silver. Fans will find it difficult to sit still to this excellent listen.