Carnival Times Two


Vibraphonist Dave Pike's Carnivals -- Bossa Nova Carnival and Limbo Carnival, both released on Prestige in 1962, repackaged here as a single album -- are some of the finest recordings of a career that spanned roughly two decades (the '60s and '70s) and two continents (the U.S. and Europe) before tapering off in the '80s and beyond.

Both sessions feature some high-powered assistance from the likes of Ray Barretto, Kenny Burrell, Tommy Flanagan and others. Together the two albums create a seamless whole that incorporates not only Latin flavors but other shades of world music as well.

"Sambolero" is a sultry opener full of smoldering energy, despite the track's modest tempo. An equally seductive backbeat underscores "Serenidade" a couple tracks later, while the hypnotic "Melvalita" showcases Burrell's understated but confident guitar work. The latter half of the set includes the Limbo Carnival tracks (albeit a re-sequenced version of the original LP), and covers a broad spectrum, including a loose and easy rendition of "La Bamba," a lighthearted reading of Charlie Parker's "My Little Suede Shoes," and a percussion-heavy interpretation of Sonny Rollins' "St. Thomas."

Since the early-'80s, Pike's studio and stage work have been low profile and sporadic, and his fame was never widespread, even during his more prolific years. But, these two sessions from his early days are evidence of his prowess as an artist who could embrace numerous styles and cultures and conjure a unified and interesting vibe.