At the Point V. One
when planning a trip to Mexico with some friends, we researched
various bungalows to rent. Our goal was something near the beach,
full of arches and furnished with a deck to enjoy some tequila shots
at sunset before going out for the evening. We wanted to pass the
hours in a merry cantina full of proud mariachi players, snacking
on hot bits of pork and imbibing freely. One of our group proclaimed
she'd found the perfect place, but our heart sank when we saw the
homemade brochure. There was a photo of a somewhat bland woman with
an overgrown perm, in a batik self-tied dress, drinking something
in a tall glass, looking out on the Mexican sunset. Her description
was "Imagine watching the magnificent sunsets while enjoying a freshly
made tropical-fruit smoothie!" Just the word "smoothie" made us
long for pork. The macrame plant holders and gailey-colored paper
mache parrots did little to fulfill out fantasy of a holiday South
o' the Border.
Latin Jazz reminds us of a smoothie. It's rarely what we're looking
for and seems a watered-down version of the Real Thing. There are
exceptions, but on the whole, we'd rather listen to something less
appropriate for a Carnival cruise.
said all of that, we have seen the future of Latin Jazz and it's
Papo Vasquez. Too often, Latin Jazz just doesn't inspire dancing,
and the boring "head" arrangements coupled with "look at me!" solos
just leave us cold. The music on this album is funky and while maybe
not quite danceable, it's always inventive and the arrangements
are modern, jazzy and still very Latin. There's a slight edge here
that keeps the CD in the player for repeated listenings, something
that rarely happens with Latin Jazz. Vasquez' trombone solos are
big and fat while remaining nimble. The recording technique keeps
things clean without being sterile. It's a winner all the way.
House of Blues Swings
Platinum/House of Blues
interest in things vintage that helped define American culture in
the 20th century is always a good thing, but the Swing
revival is very confusing. It's a big mish-mash of pre-Rock &
Roll culture that at best adds nothing but better sound fidelity,
and at worst turns some great music into cartoon culture.
few exceptions, the horn sections are surprisingly tight, especially
considering that these kids came late to the game. The problem is
that all of the bands sound incredibly similar, one being a little
more jump while another perhaps specializes in a Cab Calloway thing.
The original numbers often have incredibly lame lyrics while the
cover versions are always done better by the original groups. The
worst aspect of all this is the bland male vocals. Wearing a kooky
hat or baggy pants does not a great (or even funny) singer make.
one of the tracks on this compilation CD inspires us to dig any
deeper. The two bands of interest, Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot
Skillet Likkers and Indigo Swing, we discovered long ago. Both of
these bands take a more classic, less goofy, approach to the music
and we think they'd probably be great at any genre they chose to
follow. The rest of the bands just seem sincere but uninspired.
after the fad fades, the more talented of these groups will pursue
the music to discover something new, the way Combustible Edison
has with Lounge and the Squirrel Nut Zippers have with their pre-swing
mix. We hope so, anyway. In the meantime, we'll stick with Louis