When the dance-oriented style of jazz that engaged fans on a spontaneous level dramatically evolved to an intellectual listening experience that left many cold, the music lost much of its core audience.
Thanks to his embrace of Afro-Cuban rhythms and other Latin America-rooted styles, Harvie S proves that it is possible to create artistic and intellectually satisfying music that appeals to both the head and the feet - not to mention, hips, fingers and toes.He accomplishes this with plenty of verve in his latest release, the aptly named Texas Rumba, which was recorded live at Sweet Rhythm in New York City on May 20 and 23, 2003.
Before cutting this record, Harvie S refined his expertise as a jazz bassist, blending mainstream jazz with tropical Latin music. He employed salsa, the urbanized Afro-Cuban dance style and more musically progressive varieties of Latin jazz.
"I started listening and learning, gigging and experimenting," he says in a press release. "I played gigs anywhere I could - on club dates, salsa dances and with Latin jazz bands."
His learning experience was aided by some of the Latin world’s most respected leaders, including Ray Barretto, Chico O’Farrill, Juan Carlos Formell, Paquito D’Rivera, Ray Vega, Arturo Sandoval and Bobby Sanabria.
"I’m not dabbling in this music," Harvie S states. "There are many established jazz musicians who have touched on this music, but not to the extent that I have. I’ve been finding ways to combine modern jazz with Afro-Cuban in my own personal way. I want my music to have fire and finesse."
That, it has.
The title song, which opens the album, is definitely Latin jazz, but with a twist. The horn section injects a bit of Texican flavor to an already delicious offering. One can almost smell the tamales and barbecue while listening.Texas Rumba is quite different from most albums that carry the Latin jazz label. Rather than repeat familiar forms, each track has its distinctive character.
One of these is Curved Corners, a bluesy beauty with a haunting, catchy theme. At a comfortable 7:05, this song - as do several other tracks - allows the musicians plenty of opportunity to stretch out, particularly saxophonist Scott Robert Avidon and pianist Daniel Kelly.
The following tune, Blindside, is equally engaging.
Things slow down a bit with the elegant duet, Before, which features Harvie S and Kelly. This is followed by the up-tempo Facil and Harvie’s bass solo on Monk’s Mood.
All tracks are original Harvie S compositions, except Momentano, which was penned by Kelly, and Monk’s Mood, by Thelonius Monk.
Regardless of who composed them, the songs are full of energy and emotion that’s sure to stir the listener’s juices. Texas Rumba is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys Latin jazz, and doesn’t mind a little Southwest thrown in to spice it up.