They aren’t controlled by strings or by a hand in a sock. In fact, the
Puppeteers are the ones in control. The Puppeteers (Puppet’s
Records, 2014) brings together four accomplished musicians who logged
many hours on stage at the former Puppet’s Jazz club in Brooklyn.
The players are Arturo O’Farrill, piano; Bill Ware, vibraphone; Alex
Blake, bass; and Jaime Affoumado, drums. Collectively, their
associations include The Jazz Passengers, Steely Dan, The Manhattan
Transfer, Sun Ra, Stan Getz, the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Dizzy
Gillespie, Harry Belafonte, Jaco Pastorious and Wynton Marsalis.
Blake’s “On the Spot” has a main phrase that reminds one of the classic,
“Giant Steps.” The similarities end there. Ware then goes on a jaunt
worthy of Lionel Hampton, with some intense support from the other
musicians. O’Farrill and Affoumado get their licks in, too.
Ware’s “Bio Diesel” has a bouncy rhythm. The vibist leads much of the
way, but the others remain firmly engaged. The interplay makes this one
enjoyable as a listen but can also inspire dance. O’Farrill delivers a
fiery piano solo. Affoumado is emphatic underneath the vibraphone lead
as the quartet sets up the finale.
The Puppeteers feed off one-another’s energy. As each song progresses,
one gets the impression of being in an intimate jazz club rather than
listening to a recording. It’s a powerful tribute to the place that
inspired the group’s name, as well as the new label, Puppet’s Records.