can affect emotions, but something about Louie Cruz Beltran’s Paint the
Rhythm (Corniche Entertainment, 2011) also conjures a taste for chips
Beltran has performed with a diverse lineup of stars, from Smokey Robinson
and Natalie Cole to Dave Koz and Macy Gray. He’s accompanied by a variable
array of musicians. Among them are pianist Joe Rotondi, vibist Nick
Mancini, bassists Oscar Cartaya and Abraham Laboriel, and the three-piece
horn section of tenor saxophonist Justo Almario, alto saxophonist Albert
Wing and trombonist Eric Jorgensen.
The set sizzles from the start with “Chili Caliente.” Beltran composed
this spicy piece, and offers plenty of seasoning with his lead vocal.
After a few vocal verses and a brief quote, “Shimmy, shimmy, coco-bop,” he
lets the instruments do the cooking. Rotondi takes a turn out front, but
it’s largely about the percussion, with a little help from the horns.
Beltran croons to the Bacharach/David classic, “The Look of Love.” It’s as
charming a rendition as one can hope for, and the Latin rhythm adds a
lovely touch. Justo Almario contributes on the tenor sax.
Flutist Hubert Laws steps in on the title song. Beltran’s lyrics paint a
vivid picture of the art of romance. The vocals take on an ethereal
presence during the chorus. In addition to his original songs, Beltran
stirs in some engaging arrangements of pop/rock hits like “Hey Girl,”
“Spooky” and “Black Magic Woman.”
Paint the Rhythm is Beltran’s third release as a leader. His others
are It’s My Time and Live at the Ford.