Some people say the Paul Carlon Octet is possessed by Duke Ellington and America’s Afro-Latin Roots.
Releasing his second album Roots Propaganda with his octet, saxophonist Paul Carlon weaves the listener through all forms of different music directions from Ellington jazz to Afro-Cuban chants to blues and funk.
"Ochun" is a standout with its vocal chants by Max Pollak. Flutist Anton Denner plays wonderful lines in a tribal setting. Lead track "Backstory" has a Latin flavor and Latin rhythm that allows Carlon to shine. France born Christelle Durandy contributes what sounds like humming vocals, really add texture. With a title like "Hard Times Killin’ Floor" you might think this would be a blues number but it is far from it. Everyone in the octet contributes here, especially trombonist Mike Fahie with a beautiful solo.
Ryan Keberle plays an excellent solo in "Nobody Knows When You’re Down and Out". What really makes this song is the piano work of John Stenger. Three band mates take turns soloing in "The Most Beautiful Thing." As previously mentioned, the piano work not only on this track but throughout the album by John Stenger is exceptional. On drum set, William ‘Beaver’ Bausch does not just play along, he expands all rhythms needed.
Self admitted ‘sax head’ Paul Carlon and his octet have a winning album here. His solos are steeped with everything from traditional jazz to Afro-Cubanisms to Brazilian flavors.
Carlon says "I don’t want to beat people over the head with being deep" and this record, being beat over the head with Latin rhythms is an excellent thing.