The Caribbean Jazz Project is one of the most prolific groups in today’s jazz; their passion for creativity, spontaneity, and improvisation further develops their adventurous and faultless attributes for creating their unique sound. For those of you who haven’t explored their previous recordings then they’re latest project “Here and Now / Live in Concert” lead by mallet master Dave Samuels would be the perfect starting point in discovering their distinctive voice. With this project CJP is offering their fans a chance too experience they’re music in a live context with “Here and Now”, that might not otherwise have the opportunity. Well you this not exactly the case, nevertheless this recording benefits everyone that lends their ears too this fiery collection of Latin Jazz that’s superbly played and orchestrated by Caribbean Jazz Project.


The Players: Diego Urcola ~ trumpet & flugelhorn, Dario Eskenazi ~ piano, Oscar Stagnaro ~ bass, Mark Walker ~ drums, Roberto Quintero ~ congas & percussion and Dave Samuels ~ vibes and marimba, also produced by Dave Samuels on Concord Records 2005


Caribbean Jazz Projects enthralling new14-track two-disc music extravaganza recorded live at the Manchester Craftman’s Guild opens with the enthusiastic” Rendezvous” (The Gathering, 2002). It appears to me that Samuels and company are essentially about the business of cultivating a mixture of passionate, memorable, and exuberant music to savor for years to come.


Artistically CJP embraces the validity of the jazz classic “Stolen Moments” (The Gathering. 2002) by revamping the canvas by painting detailed strokes with effervescent colors and shapes that are itched into the fabric of this timeless jazz standard that they’re now claiming ownership of by providing their own signature voicing. The music of CJP swells with energy and excitement giving each artist ample opportunity to glow by showcasing their improvisational skills as in this case on “Turnabout” (Birds of a Feather, 2003).  


Arthur’s Dance” is classic Latin music, as I know it (New Horizon, 2000). The samba grasps the flavor of the cha, cha with flawless execution by trumpeter/flugelhornist Diego Urcola assuredly demonstrates with authority that he very much in zone. The guys in the band interweaves collectively into the core if this festive composition is a testament to the dynamics of their supreme musicianship. “The Gathering” comes in at the 5th spot (The Gathering 2002) as percussionist Roberto Quintero serves up his twist of tantalizing percussive wizardry followed by the brilliance of pianist Dario Eskenazi.


The first few selections on “Now and Then” are very much in the up-tempo mode, Samuels’s and the gang changes the mood with “Picture Frame” (Birds of a Feather, 2003). This song is ideal for a musician to illustrate his/her competence as a soloist and Samuels does exceptionally well. Diego Urcola breathes aura of newness into his muted trumpet, a sound that radiant and soulful pulling you into the warmth of his solo.


“Bemsha Swing” opens with an extended improvised solo by Samuels. What mesmerizes me more often then not about Latin music is the percussive rhythmic foundation that employs vibrant colors, shades and textures that’s layered with symmetry that envelops all the other instruments along the path without missing a beat. Samuels delivers once more with the compelling “One Step Ahead” from (Paraiso, 2001). Yes, this is jazz at its best with its distinct Latin flavorings. On “One Step Ahead” compositionally Samuels appears too be under the influence of tenure with Spyro Gyro.


Mariella’s Dream” is melodically stimulating with an intense samba vibe. Flugelhornist Diego Urcola tonality and solos deserves applause along with pianist Dario Eskenazi’s contributions as well.  On The Road”(Birds of A Feather, 2003) is one of my favorite jams on the disc! The pulse of the groove is impeccable with emphasis on the invigorating spirit of the samba. The bluesy “Five for Elvin” comes off of their “Paraiso, 2001” release. I can only imagine that this exceptional tune was written with drummer Elvin Jones in mind.


Caribbean Jazz Project’s treatment of Coltrane’s classic “Naima” is so sweet (Paraiso, 2001) trumpeter Diego Urcola sounds if he’s under the influence of jazz great Arturo Sandoval. Samuels and percussionist Quintero pays homage to Dizzy Gillespie’s “Night in Tunisia” (New Horizons, 2000) by exhaling sonic nuances into this classic establishing their presence as noble warriors of they’re instruments until the 2:20 mark, soon thereafter CJP joins in swinging into overdrive with their exuberant interplay and powerful solos.


One thing that’s most fascinating about Caribbean Jazz Project is they’re uncanny ability encompass and exalt each composition creatively interceding with the voice of depth and passion at a moments notice. CJP embraces “Caravan” another jazz classic and the last selection on “Here and Now”. At the climax the band absolutely rips it up with their free flowing artistry, bringing this invigorating and challenging 14-track music experience to and end.


Dave Samuels has been sitting at the helm of the Caribbean Jazz Project since the “New Horizons” release back in 2000. His partnership and tenure with Jay Beckstein (Spyro Gyra) is certainly paying off as he’s established himself as consummate leader that has nurtured this undeniably fresh and irresistible sound. “Here and Now” by Caribbean Jazz Project is armed with comprehensive material played with proficiency by accomplished musicians that’s explosive and definitely for Latin Jazz connoisseurs everywhere and rest assured for those of you that have an affinity for great music.





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q       Buy their music at quality music outlets everywhere.