Evolution includes an assortment of original tunes and jazz standards adapted to clavé. For example, bassist Abiud Troche’s arrangement takes "Take Five," in four, and the rightness of Paul Desmond’s meter of choice becomes evident. For Troche stretches the long tones to conform to the newly metered song as Joseph Rodriguez’ percussion rules, saxophonist Andrew Neu’s purity of tone nonetheless recalling Desmond’s, though Desmond’s remains ever distinctive. By the same token, Toots Thielemans’ "Bluesette" is done in four as well, a rumba percolating under Neu’s and Niess’ assured melodic leadership.
But tunes like "Jordu" or Niess’ "Rumba Caliente" attain greater complexity as the moods shift and the course of the music becomes unpredictable. "Rumba Caliente" starts solely with Afro-Cuban percussion, but then after 20 seconds, the irresistibility of clavé takes over, and "Rumba Caliente" moves into another phase altogether. Plus, Hector Rosado’s and Rodriguez’ use of timbale to drive the music is a reminder of Puente’s influence on the music.
Recorded with painstaking attention to capturing the sonic contributions of each of the instruments, including balance and richness of timbre, Evolution offers the magic of Latin music expertly played in a mutually supportive musical environment. It’s music that works its way into the listener’s consciousness and stays there long after the playing has stopped.