Title - 'New York Strong: Latin Jazz!'
Artist - Noah Bless
If you are not in the know, a 30-year veteran of New York's rich Latin jazz scene, trombonist-composer Noah Bless has immersed himself in Afro-Cuban music, soaking up mambo and rhumba while getting the clave ingrained into his DNA.
A graduate of internationally renowned Cincinnati Conservatory, with a master's degree in jazz from the Manhattan School of Music, Bless didn't intend on pursuing this Latin jazz path when he arrived in the Big Apple in 1990.
Indeed, the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra was more in his personal wheelhouse. But as all working musicians know, especially those fresh arrivals to the city looking for a means to pay their rent, you go where the gigs are.
"There were a ton of clubs in New York at that time, and if you were a brass player and you could read music, you could do Latin gigs," Bless explains.
Bless found himself playing for dancers at the fabled Club Broadway on 96th & Broadway. "At that time, I was living on the Upper West Side and I used to walk to that gig," he recalls.
He persisted on the salsa scene and by 1992 was touring the world with Afro-Cuban jazz pioneer Mario Bauza. He subsequently put in time with salsa stars Celia Cruz, Oscar D'Leon and La India, Latin jazz innovator Eddie Palmieri, arranger-conductor Ray Santos, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra and Arturo O'Farrill's Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.
On his ZOHO debut, New York Strong: Latin Jazz!, New York trombonist Noah Strong presents his Latin Jazz quintet within 6 Latin standards and 2 originals.
1. 'Chasing Normal' (Noah Bless) (5:36)
2. 'Ganga' (Rudy Calzado) (4:32)
3. 'Canto De Ossanha' (Baden Powel) (5:42)
4. '49th Street' (Bill Mobley) (4:15)
5. 'Ligia' (Antonio Carlos Jobim) (4:12)
6. 'The Key' (Noah Bless) (5:36)
7. 'Fire and Rain' (James Taylor) (5:04)
8. 'Sunny Ray' (Ray Santos) (5:01)
Opening with the dulcet, yet melodically orchestrated, and Bless original 'Chasing Normal,' that's backed by Kozlov’s tumbao groove carrying, free-flowing 'Ganga' (Rudy Calzado), then comes Baden Powell’s beguiling Afro-samba number 'Canto de Ossanha,' and then we get treated to the beguiling, intricate majesty of '49th Street' (Bill Mobley).
Laid upon a bed of softly soothing trombone, we next get the relaxed, soulful readings of the beautiful Carlos Jobim ballad 'Ligia,' which in turn is followed by the other Bless original here, the upbeat 'The Key,' with the album rounding out with James Taylor’s mellow folk rock anthem, 'Fire And Rain,' coming to a close on Ray Santos' mambo big band vibe (although noticeably done here in 7/4) 'Sunny Ray.'
“This was something I was planning to do in my 30s or 40s,” Bless reveals about his new album, "but I honestly think that it probably couldn’t have been made until now.”
Musicians: Noah Bless – trombone; Mike Eckroth – keyboards; Boris Koslov – bass; Pablo Bencid – drums; Luisito Quintero – percussion; with guest Alejandro Aviles – flute.
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