"Ibanyale" (Entrance) is an introduction to some very deep and profound music, especially the Monk standard, "Straight No Chaser," a true hot jam that starts off in an almost New Orleans type groove that goes "straight" through to a joyful Afro-Cuban experience. "El Paseo" is a truly danceable track, even though jazz enthusiasts don?t generally dance during a set. This leaves the strongest impression of the first three tracks on this CD. Murray Low deals some peaceful, but engaging solo piano. The horn section is aggressive, but tight, as one would expect in this type of music.
Café Con Azucar is described as Afro/Jazz/Funk. Well, it?s certainly accurate; and the main component has to be funk. It cooks hard, but simmers down to really nice conga and drum solos by Jesus Diaz and Paul Van Wageningen. "Primera Vista," has the cha-cha and a more traditional vibe. John Worley throws in some of the most sensuous trumpet to boot. The Horace Silver composition, "Moon Rays," is breezy and sensitive without syrup. The Brazilian beat is alive and well in "Samba Nueva,". It?s a nice departure from the majority of tracks. It?s spicy and mellow all at once. The title track is quite memorable with its straight-ahead hipness and Ron Stallings? funky tenor solo. The moving departure track, "Ago Elegua Abukenke," is filled with the sound of gratitude and spirit.
This is a celebration! Wallace delivers great solos throughout and the ensemble hooks into a variety of textures in the context of Latin Jazz. He composed eight of the twelve tracks and showed remarkable taste in his other selections. He?s got lots of credits to his name, but this debut should earn him the shining star.