Joseph Diamond's second CD Island Garden is an exciting mix. These tunes are not just seasoned, but cooking with Caribbean and Latin flavor. It's unusual for an artist to draw from such diverse Afro-Latin/Caribbean traditions without sounding contrived or mocking. Diamond's sound comes from actual experience traveling the Caribbean and absorbing the difference in phrasing between cultures. You can actually hear Mexico in certain tunes, and the West Indies in others. The cuts buzz with rhythmic color and harmonic innovation. The mambos, merengues, and calypsos are distinctive. Of course great tunes are created by great musicianship and Joseph Diamond is a master of the keys. He manages to balance the easy Jazz with peppery Latin heat and he's gathered just the right musicians to help him achieve the sound.
Cut one, Montoya Mambo is Jazz easy and Latin hot, while the second cut Anytime, is smooth with building piano rhythms. Black Cowboy has a very Mexican feel while L.A. is a joyride with its sophisticated vocalese. Cuts five and six are all pretty and introspective. Then the title cut Island Garden with its percussive drumming and West Indian rhythms has a melody that sound like it's telling a story of discovery. The Yaqui with its teasing vocals is one of my favorites, as is the soulful What You Gonna Say.
I usually tend to prefer instrumentals, and the light vocals that are sprinkled through the cuts are just right. I highly recommend this CD. You may feel like booking a flight to a tropical island or getting a long cool drink and playing make believe in your favorite lawn chair. Whichever you choose, you won't be reclining for long!