The vibrant fresh release from composer/arranger/keyboard artist Klay Dumas-Copas (Klay D-C) is entitled Ritmo, and contains a vastly entertaining fusion of Latin rhythms with contemporary jazz and popular music strains. The zesty blend is totally enticingly irresistible. The closest Spanish to English translation for the word "ritmo" is "rhythm," and this release is filled with multiple potent rhythms and memorable melodies.
"Mungabunga" opens the disc with a soft brooding piano passage that after about a minute quickly begins building in intensity until the song becomes engulfed in a swirling passionate parade of percolating Latin energy. Rene Melonez on bass guitar provides the steady driving beat for the duo of Klay D-C on keyboards and Allan Simpson on sizzling electric guitar to creatively erect their wall of sound from. With this fine song Ritmo hits the ground running, and never looks back.
The title track features a semi-traditional Spanish mid-tempo groove with Klay exhibiting his keyboard mastery as he cascades jazzy percussive chords up and down the keys amidst his repeated returns to caress the melody. When Allan Simpson cuts loose with his Al DiMeola inspired flamenco electric guitar runs near the song’s conclusion a paradise of agreeable Latin/Jazz-Rock fusion is reached.
A lighter delight follows with the pretty and featherlike "Azure." Dreamy clouds float across the blue skies on this soundscape with Klay’s expressive piano forefront on this elegant tune. Orefo Orakwue shows a deft touch on his pronounced bass and Simpson adds a dash of contemporary effects guitar along the way to aid the pensive atmosphere.
The song "Future Proof" has two separate personalities that blend wonderfully. A spicy salsa rhythm and a jazz fusion sound that beacons back to Jan Hammer’s superb keyboards heartily compete for dominance in this fine tune. Next, a severe Latin flavored cadence flavors "Wadyawant?," one of the most pleasing songs on a CD filled with quality cuts. Klay’s keyboards, alternating from playful to devilish, guide the way through clever changes back and forth from semi-delicate to fervent fiery hot with the emphasis on the latter.
The song pair "The Muse" and "Coast Road" drift slightly from the Latin rhythm motif, but both contain fine, lush melodies rich in imagery. The musicianship is resplendent on both of these two contemporary smooth jazz gems with Klay D-C’s keyboard work crystalline. The electric guitar imparted by Allan Simpson near the coda of "The Muse" approaches "Breezin’-era" George Benson select. "Coast Road" evokes the thrill of sailing across a body of water in semi-calm weather. Rolling merrily along with joyful piano and keys and sparse percussion, the song is refreshing and uplifting.
Some sprightly saxophone by Andrew Milnes is teamed with Klay D-C’s keyboards for a potent combination on "Thoughts of You," providing some more diversity to the CD. The session’s closer "Bounce" is driven by peppery Latin percussion and the bounce the title refers to is most likely the rocking motion your head will make upon listening to this tune.
Klay D-C has hit aural pay dirt with Ritmo, and validated his firm grasp of the intricacies of jazzy Latin rhythms fused with a variety of other genres. The energy, power, life, and authority crafted here on his sophomore solo release is palpable. Fans of contemporary jazz keyboards along with fans of Latin jazz will greatly appreciate this fine release. Ritmo is alluring and powerful music by a very promising artist.