Generoso Que Bueno Toca Usted
Perhaps one of the most exciting songs in the entire
catalogue of recorded Cuban music is Que Bueno Baila Usted,
performed by Beny Moré and his Orquesta Gigante. It's one
big crescendo that never quite explodes yet it marries perfectly
the African roots and rhythms of black Cuba with Jazz and Big Band
music. Right out of the gate, Beny sings, "Generoso, como
toca Usted!" (Generoso, how you play!), and this is followed
by Generoso's explosive sputtering trombone solo, reminding one
of a geyser trying to explode. And it does.
A million years later, contemporary Cubans and
Cuban-Americans are paying tribute to this great trombonist who
was so integral to Moré's Big Band sound. Led by Juan Pablo
Torres and featuring the likes of Rudy Calzado, Pio Leiva, Arturo
Sandoval and the ubiquitous Paquito d'Rivera, the all-star cast
plays ten strong numbers, all written and arranged by Jiminez, with
three tracks even featuring the 84-year old's ever-graceful trombone
There must be something to rum, heat and tobacco.
Young Juan Paul Torres is clearly organizing things but it's Jiminez'
show all the way. Like Bebo Valdes, in whose band Jiminez played
before hooking up with Beny Moré, Generoso Jiminez proves
there are a lot of tunes left in an old violin, a thought that we
find encouraging as we feel age creeping up.
All the songs are good, but we suspect the
actual sessions might have been even better. A lot of the tracks
fade out for no apparent reason, sometimes even in the middle of
a solo. Other than this, the music is a really fine tribute to a
rich moment in music history, Cuban or otherwise. There's nothing
cute or fake "retro" about the recording. Jiminez doesn't
quite have the chops of a young buck, but there is the absolutely
sweetest moment on the last track, A Bailar Tomason, a sort
of Manzanillo-inspired dance track when the coro cries out, "¡Generoso
que bueno toca Usted!" and the band stops so the 84-year
old Jiminez can take his solo. There's not much muscle and it's
all heart. You'd have to be pretty hard not to feel a little soft
when you hear the solo. For us, it's what inspiration is all about.
I Wish You Love
Telarc CD 83551
Janis Siegel gets a round of applause for singing non-mainstream
music, singing it well and even making a living at it. Even though
she's probably the brightest member of the musical quartet The Manhattan
Transfer, her solo efforts have always been rather lackluster in
that there is a dreary sameness or a "Look-Ma-no-hands!"
variety show-quality that never quite gels.
Siegel has great taste and a beautiful voice. Oddly, she doesn't
have much range, either emotionally or vocally. In her world, music
is beautiful, maybe a little arty but never out of control or carefree.
It's odd that she insists on a jazz foundation because while her
aesthetic may be jazz, her delivery is pure pop.
Her new album, I Wish You Love, on Telarc, is probably her
best. The original idea was take pop songs from the Brill building
and jazz them up. This is truly a dreadful idea and thankfully it
was mostly dropped. Instead we again have a wild mix of styles that
work on various levels. Having essentially the same back up band
and producer for all 11 tracks gives the album a cohesiveness that
was lacking on her last eclectic disc, At Home. The songs
all have actual arrangements (as opposed to plain old "head"
arrangements as on her bland as toast The Tender Trap) so
we're really ahead of the game here.
There are many bright moments on I Wish You Love. The title
song is a swinger with bongos and you may just forget about Charles
Trenet and Keely Smith. Also strong is a peppy The Masquerade
Is Over. We cringed when we saw that she covers Go Away Little
Boy, but she pulls off a very credible version, owing nothing
to Donny Osmond or Marlena Shaw. The Late Late Show and Don't
Go To Strangers, however, are so tied to Dakota Staton and Etta
Jones, respectively, that we have to wonder why she would bother
recording these themes without adding anything new or interesting.
Don't Go To Strangers in particular owes everything to its
The entire album has a pleasant acoustic sound and Telarc's revolutionary
recording techniques really bring the action home.
We like Janis Siegel and we hope she continues to record frequently.
We feel there's a great album in her and she's getting closer all
the time to recording it.
Lynn Bush turns out to be "the girl with something extra"
on her new Origin Arts release, Still Life (Origin 82394).
A smart trio, a smart repertoire and a smart singer all add up to
a smart purchase
Jazziz Magazine has collected 16 strong jazz tracks for its benefit
disc, Homeland. Proceeds go to aid the Red Cross and you
get to hear the state of contemporary jazz. Call 888-834-3023 ext
303 for copies
Honky Tonk Confidential's album, Your Trailer Or Mine? is
a real mix bag-o-nuts, from the sublime to the outright stinky,
but we think it's worth it alone for Diana Quinn's I Love the
Bartender. Check out their website for more details...
Mondo Platinum (Ark 21 Records 1865800512) is a peppy compilation
that sounds a little dated in that all the songs have nice melodies
and a vague trip-hop feel. Who would have thought we'd have nostalgia
for 5 years ago? The best tracks are from North Africa but the whole
disc is solid, except for Canda's entry. It belongs on a blander,
less interesting album.