DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Afro Cuban Latin Jazz Project – El Vuelo – AIX (2006)

A 2006 DualDisc with some great Latin sounds, plus images.

Published on April 9, 2013

Afro Cuban Latin Jazz Project – El Vuelo (2006)

Program: (TrackList below)
Director: Mark Waldrep
Studio: AIX 80056 [Distr. by Naxos]
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 HD color
Audio: 5.1 DD “Audience,” 5.1 DTS “Stage,” 96/24 Stereo Mix, 96/24 5.1 DVD-Audio “Stage”
Extras: AV Setup, The Recording (technical aspects), The Musicians (text bios), About the Band (live footage, bio, discography, website and contact info)
Length: 54 minutes
Rating:  ***½ 

(Kamasi Washington (saxophone), Gustavo Ramirez (keyboards), Raul Pineda (drums), Jesus Diaz (congas), Jorge “Sawa” Perez (bass))

This release dates from 2006, and is not a DualDisc but a double-sided DVD with DVD-A on one side and DVD-V on the other. It is also the same thickness as standard CDs so there should be no problem playing in some decks.  AIX is well-known for its high quality music releases and this one is no exception.  All the musicians in ACLJP are jazz veterans and have quite impressive bios.  Pineda has won a Grammy and made a video about the drums of Cuba.  Washington grew up in a musical family and studied and played with exceptional artists like Kenny Burrell, Billy Higgins, Harold Land, Jeff Clayton and Gerald Wilson.  Perez has played and recorded with Buena Vista Social Club and Ry Cooder among others and is a highly skilled bassist.  Diaz has toured and recorded with Carlos Santana, Andy Narrell, Dizzy Gillespie, Bobbie Womack and on and on.  Ramirez writes, arranges and composes all the music for the group.  Unlike some who tend to dominate the music with their chosen instrument, the performance here remains equally divided between the players, making the music sound as if it were of a single voice.

Like other AIX discs there are multiple audio formats to choose from and different “viewpoints” as well.  The music consists of contemporary Latin jazz with no big surprises.  The performers are first rate and the music sounds less like a recording session and more like what you’d experience in a club setting (without the applause after the stunning solos).  The DVD-A side offers static slides with the song title and the ability to go to the next track, but no other video.  The video quality on the DVD-V side rotates between one performer and the next with occasional close-ups to show off hand and footwork.  There are but brief fades in between tracks with no apparent rest for the musicians.

El Vuelo (The Flight) is a fast-paced number that just flies along (apologies for the pun).  The music is in the jazz style of the last decade or two with some obvious classic influences and not as heavy a Latin sound as you’d expect.  The group is so together I kept listening for missteps and didn’t hear any.  The next tracks are mellow and smooth and much more traditional sounding while the last two songs bring the speed back up, give the performers some solo time and finally settle into an easy finish.  Overall, this disc is a very pleasant listening experience and worth checking out what is happening in jazz today, as well as offering a plethora of audio playback options.

TrackList: El Vuelo; Enfumbe; Solamente Con Amor; Aquellas Gaviotas; Encuentro.

—Brian Bloom




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