The combination of Bill Summers, Irvin Mayfield and Jason Marsalis created a grand multicultural musical landscape. "Los Hombres Calientes" is exactly what the title would suggest. The predominant influence is Afro-Cuban salsa rhythms as evident in most tracks, but West African, reggae, funk, and Brazilian are in the mix as well. The majority of tracks here is composed by the band and is quite powerful. "Ron's Groove" sports a tough drum attack by Marsalis along with Mayfield's trumpet introduction leading into Victor Adkins steamy piano simmering over the melody. Mayfield returns for a rapid striking solo. "Cuban Suite, pts 1, 2 and 3" is a thematic buildup utilizing strings, a classic touch of swirling piano and revolving melody, increasing strength. Mayfield enters and the tempo builds only to settle into a soft-Latin undercurrent.
In Part 2 Atkins' piano suggests a continuation to the first as the title would suggest, but climbs to an energetic Afro-Cuban rhythm pace. Part 3 picks up a more racy salsa feel. Other tracks differ such as "Comparsa N.O.," where the horn section dishes New Orleans spice over the Latin structure. Perhaps the most intriguing is "Tangeaux-Zon," a tango loaded with soul, yet romantic and sultry. The ensemble swings on all scores incorporating Reggae and some really tight funk. Check out the kickin' Hammond B-3 workouts by Ronald Markham and an augmented rhythm section on "Rasta Renegade" and "Chameleon/We Want the Funk." "Alabi Oyo E" and "Suite Obatala" are very moving tributes to legendary African royalty with traditional chanting and percussion. This set should appeal to a variety of listeners; a real treat.