Trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer Eddie Allen has been kicking around New York for a number of years, always doing great work but not getting the critical attention he truly deserves. Among the greats he’s worked with are Mongo Santamaria, Lester Bowie, Jack McDuff, Etta Jones & Houston Person, Art Blakey, Randy Weston, Dizzy Gillespie, Henry Threadgill Mongo Santamaria, Chico Freeman and Charli Persip.
Allen’s extensive Latin background makes him the perfect leader to put together this new Afro-Cuban/Brazilian group. Fronting a seven-piece band, Allen’s ensemble plays with a fire, dedication and obvious love of the music. Steeped in the soul of the style, the musicians let it rip from the first note of "Brasilian Sunset" to the last note of "Just So You Know." The eight Allen originals and one Charlie Parker standard, "My Little Suede Shoes," are all done with a high degree of taste rarely exhibited in today’s jazz.
Highlights include Allen’s solo on "Nymphs Of The Sudan." His extramusical tongued growls are inserted at just the right moment to lift his solo to new levels and round out his previous ideas perfectly. The light samba-ish "Touch" is the perfect Latin ballad, not too smooth and not too slow. It takes it’s time and Allen’s vocalizations add the perfect color to the melodic lines.
Of special note is the keyboard work of Uli Geissendoerfer. His synth strings are perfectly programmed and not forced in the mix. In addition, his solo on "Touch" shows he knows a thing or two about melodic inversion. Hector Martignon’s piano embellishments and voicings are so perfectly placed throughout the entire disc you’d swear the tunes were written that way.
The tandem of Diego Lopez on drums and Renato Thoms on percussion keep the music alive and swinging throughout. Saxophonists Bruce Williams and Teodross Avery are the main beneficiaries of the heavy percussive backbeats and don’t turn in a bad solo. There’s a reason why these who reed players are some of the hottest guns in the jazz world today. This Latin disc is well worth picking up.