Twenty years and nine albums down the line from his debut release, The Latin Jazz Project, and Tony Marino is still expertly exploring the boundaries and back roads of that genre. This new album takes instrumental excursions through myriad sub-genres, from the expected Samba, Calypso, and Funk to the more niche grooves associated with the carnival vibes of Frevo and the percussive urges of Baiao.
I have to confess that I am not as well versed in the intricacies of jazz as I would like, so I will apologize to aficionados for the absence of a detailed unpacking of the music. But then most of us approach such things, as a punter and consumer, which is fine, as those with only a casual relationship with the genre, like myself, will find an accessible, infectious and hypnotic collection of sounds within.
Forget the mechanics, music for my money is all about evocation, the painting of visions and vistas, a conjuring of people and places and here there is no shortage of images brought to life as these magical sounds pass before your ears. Draw a line connecting Brazilian carnivals to Cuban dancehalls, another from chilled beach parties to ancient African rhythms and then many more connecting places and thoughts, music and stories that have no business being connected. Stare at the pattern of the lines for a long time, and then shut your eyes. The stars and patterns dancing behind your eyelids is the music of this outstanding composer.
If you have found contemporary jazz too impenetrable, too complex, then maybe this is the place to start. Not only does the straighter delivery of the Latin groove sit more easily on the listener, but also the gathering of global influences keeps things nicely fresh and spontaneous. This fusion of world sounds hits a high point on Pradeep and Neera, a tabla drum driven groove that matches classical India rhythms with modern jazz piano, orient meets occident, to fantastic effect.
And it is this disregard for cultural boundaries that is the charm of the album, rather than explore just the one musical pathway to exhaustion, Tony Marino is set on gathering the largest amount of experiences, casting his net wide and taking in a broad range of musical styles. But it is then what he does with these musical building blocks that is the key, for despite the wandering and exploratory nature of the album; there is a consistency and house style that turns this coming together of ideas a unique brand.
And as a mere punter, I can easily see the attraction of this wonderful collection of tunes and it’s subtly changing dynamic means that it fits in as chilled background music, conducive to a quiet night in but crank the volume up and you have nothing short of a very sophisticated party soundtrack.
Jazz fans will appreciate the dexterity of playing and the deftness of the compositions, regular punters will find a groovesome and fun re-examination of seductive and sensual sounds but everyone will find something to love in a collection of musical soundscapes that have one foot firmly planted firmly in Latin jazz but the other stepping out to explore the world and its music.