Monday, May 28, 2012


A veteran percussionist and pioneer of the Latin jazz genre since the early sixties, Bobby Matos has created an excellent fusion of Latin and Afro-jazz music on Acknowledgement. Matos records ten original hot and heavy, hip-moving compositions with his Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble and pays tribute to the legendary John Coltrane with Afro-Latin arrangements of three Coltrane standards. They include the four-note classic "A Love Supreme Acknowledgement," supported by some masterful playing from bassist John B. Williams, and "Tunji" and "Equinox," featuring fine tenor work by Frank Fontaine, Jr. and several solos by Danny Weinstein on viola and trombone.

Matos opens up the session with one of his own uptempo charts on "Manhattan Mozambique," which is followed by another upbeat piece dedicated to his musician son, "Song for Jud." Jud Matos, also a member of the band, plays the clave throughout but really shines on the guiro, bell and chekere on "Chango's Jazz." Not to be outdone, Bobby Matos comes through on congas and timbales in expressive style, marking this disc as an exciting percussion project. While the majority of the tracks here are instrumentals,"Songoro" and "Soy Lucumi" are two charanga-based tunes with vocals provided by Ismael "East" Carlo.

Two of the best scores on the album have to be the brief but sweet little number "Motivos de Jazz," highlighting Weinstein's performance on violin, and the melodically engaging "Evelyn," with pronounced play by Matos (timbales), Fontaine, Jr. (flute) and Theo Saunders (piano). This album contains an obvious Afro-Cuban accent that this Cuban-American reviewer can appreciate. Acknowledgement combines Latin jazz swing with a heavy Afro percussive backdrop, delivering a truly vibrant performance.

~ Edward Blanco

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