Gabriel Espinosa is a bass player, composer, arranger and educator (director of Jazz Studies at Central College, Iowa). On this project he proves he is a great leader, the group of musicians that he has assembled fuse together seamlessly. His arrangement of the Jobim classic "Agua De Beber" is the ear catcher that sets the tone for the entire recording, a pleasing delight. The song features Kim Nazarian and Darmon Meader on lead vocals with Alison Wedding backing vocals.
Wedding takes the lead on "We’ve Come Undone" and "Remain" songs that she also penned. Her delivery on both tunes is excellent, beautiful timbre, accomplished phrasing and heartfelt scatting.
The Espinosa songs range from strong melody based tunes to highly involved romps that feature great rhythms and plenty of room for the lead instruments to let go. And the rhythm section takes its turn as lead, as witnessed second song in "Klavier Latino" an Espinosa original with a gorgeous melody. The song starts out pretty, a laid back alto sax feature by George Robert pulls trumpeter Claudio Roditi into the fold. The song comes around to a bridge and the rhythm section lets go, seemingly led by drummer Antonio Sanchez. All the lead instruments boil with intense energy - a burning groove.
Other Espinosa compositions "LP07", "Nuevos Horizontes", "Azul Y Negro" and "Huracan" are all exciting numbers. Songs that blend strong melodies with stirring rhythms providing ample opportunities for this stellar line up to work their magic. A special treat is the strong clarinet playing of Anat Cohen, featured on "Nuevos Horizontes".
On the more laid back original tunes, "Morning Breeze" and "Maria" a melodic jazz groove develops, lots of hooks and ear catching carrots to lead the discerning listener on. The rhythm section of Helio Alves, drummer Sanchez, percussionist Dende, guitarist Lubambo, and the leader Espinosa provide a pulse of sweet serenity with an edge of intensity.
Gabriel Espinosa and company have done an outstanding job on From Yucatan To Rio. This is an album of considerable depth with a light an easy feel that jumps out at you with resounding passion and delightful musicianship.