The Caribbean Jazz Project, the Latin jazz collective of vibraphonist David Samuels, steel pan drummer Andy Narell and saxophonist Paquito d’Rivera, crafted their first recordings on Heads Up International in the 1990s and immediately captured the imagination of audiences and critics worldwide. In the years since, the GRAMMY® Award winning ensemble CJP lead by Samuels has recorded subsequent albums on the Concord label and a few of the faces in the group’s roster have changed. Nevertheless, Samuels and company continue to explore and test the commonly accepted boundaries of Latin jazz – and jazz in general – via innovative compositions and exciting arrangements.
The Caribbean Jazz Project - Afro Bop Alliance recasts nine CJP signature pieces – some by Samuels and others by Coltrane, Monk and other jazz luminaries – in a fresh new light via full-bodied arrangements by the Maryland-based Afro Bop Alliance, one of the most exciting new bands on the Latin jazz scene today. Since their inception less than five years ago, the brassy and high-energy Afro Bop Alliance has electrified audiences at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Smithsonian Jazz Café, The W. C. Handy Jazz Festival and many other music and cultural festivals.
The set opens with light-hearted and energetic “Rendezvous.” The Afro Bop horns bring a level of energy that complements the CJP rhythm section of bassist Max Murray drummer Joe McCarthy and percussionist Roberto Quintero. The followup track is a breezy but solid rendition of Coltrane’s classic “Naima,” with a horn and vibe counterpoint that moves the piece along toward a coda that eventually stretches the limits of melody and percussion to the limits of tonality and rhythm. In the final stretch, “Afro Green” opens with a mysterious sounding marimba/percussion mix that underscores a majestic horn arrangement, then segues into a more traditional jazz groove. The closer is an intriguing rendition of Monk’s well-known “Bemsha Swing” that takes the jazz classic beyond its traditional moorings into a more experimental realm.