World & Latin

Smooth Shadows

16 APR 09 JOHN C. BRUENING

Despite what the title might suggest, saxophonist Ed Calle's Twilight has nothing to do with the recent pop culture fascination with teenage vampire romance. Originally released on Concord Vista in 2001, the album is firmly rooted in the world of the living -- where solid melodies and funky grooves converge to create some of the best sounds on the smooth jazz landscape.

Loaded with catchy sax hooks and infectious rhythms, these thirteen tracks include guest appearances by some prominent Latin jazz players, including trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, guitarist Luis Toledo and pianist Julio Hernandez. The lion's share of the material was penned by Calle, beginning with the uptempo but understated opener "Joyful." Also noteworthy are the urban-flavored and evocative "Smood Dude" and the sultry title track. In the closer, "Strut," Calle combines all of his horns with Sandoval's trumpet for a retro-style free-for-all that embraces the best of soul, blues and rock.

In addition to the original material, check out Calle's interpretations of a couple pop classics from the '70s -- Neil Sedaka's "Laughter in the Rain" and Minnie Ripperton's "Lovin' You." The former is a fairly straightforward interpretation of the original, while the latter offsets the song's gentle melody with a forceful backbeat that seems counterintuitive at first, but ultimately works. In the end, both dovetail effortlessly with Calle's own compositional sensibilities.

Whatever's waiting in the shadows of Twilight is very much alive. If you're a creature of the night, there's plenty here to sink your teeth into.