Joseph Diamond - Island Garden

When we talk about Salsa, we are approaching not only a genre of Afro Carribean music but a lifestyle, a world of it's own. Salsa is music, religion, dance, hot sauces and business. Last week I saw a tv-report about Salsa in Cuba, where they have developed a new music style and Salsa remains the music of elder artists, collected in albums like Buena Vista Social Club. Nevertheless if one searchs "Salsa" over the net, one will find hundreds of websites and if one tries the Latin American search engines it might be thousands. So Salsa has conquered the world. If you are interested in the roots of Salsa, I recommend you the article of Max Salazar "Salsa Origins".

During my visits in Mexico, Brazil and Puerto Rico I recognized that these countries have many discos with loud Latin American music disturbing my night sleep and entertaining the local youth. Forget the sleep and go dancing, it's the Latin American lifestyle. Only a few musicians have connections to Smooth Jazz, blending Latin American Music with Smooth Jazz or R & B. I mention for example Mike Ianieri , The Urban Jazz Coalition, Andy Narell and The Caribbean Jazz Project, Nestor Torres, Vincent Montana Jr., Roberto Perera, F.R.E.N.S., Obo, Freddie Ravel, Luis Salinas, Ed Maguire, Maximo Pera Renauld, Steve Quinzi, Joe Fuentes or Marc Antoine.

Joseph Diamond surely takes a special position under these artists. He has already found my attention with his album "Not Your Typical New Yorker". His second album "Island Garden" will be released in June 2002 and is available as pre-ordered copy over Joseph's website. Joseph comments his new album positively: I think anyone who bought my CD Not Your Typical New Yorker, will be very impressed with Island Garden. I think the CD is a logical step forward from the first CD. Not Your Typical New Yorker will always be a classic in my mind but I think on this new CD I have managed to take it a step further and I think every aspect of this project is better.

The first tune is Montoya Mambo. Joseph comments: "This song was written for my first playing engagement with the band in Wilmington, Delaware. The name Montoya was given to me in Aruba and being that the song has such a dance feel to it, I decided on Montoya Mambo." Compared to his first album Joseph hasn't changed his style. His piano play is sophisticated and vivid. One immediately remarks his great fun to play Salsa. Joseph has developed Salsa to a musical real treat and this song is his proof.

Anytime showcases a syncopated version of Salsa with a strong samba rhythm blended with strings garniture. Joseph 's piano solo fades away to the end, although I believe, the live version will be much longer. Bruce Williamson's acompanying flute is thrilling like a jumping bird. Joseph comments: An anthem for the people of the world who say yes and give of themselves in whatever they do in life.

Black Cowboy features anew Bruce Williamson with a brilliant flute solo. Together with Johnny Almenda 's bongos and Pocholo Segundo 's congas Joseph kindles a real musical firework.

L.A. is a very radiolike Smooth Jazz piece with a grooving rhythm. Andricka Hall and Stephanie James add some smoothly breathed "L.A.s". If you like modern hooking Smooth Jazz and a perfect piano play, this is a superior model.

But L.A. isn't the typical Joseph Diamond, we know. That's Not A Good Idea is more of his original music. Starting uptempo Joseph uses immediately the further opportunity for an extensive furious piano solo. Vince Cherico shows his drumming skills.

On the contemplative midtempo Someday It Will Be OK Joseph finds more silent tones. Anew his piano play increases in eccentric lines.

Island Garden is a special track featuring Rob Thomas on violin. This tune is melting elements of Latin and Fusion Jazz to an epic film score.

Suena Como Alegria surprises with a folkloric melody, which is continued on the next tune El Stupido. A very dance-oriented (Merengue) piece with the typical instrumentation.

There Goes Another One has a strong Santana flavor, one knows by Oye Como Va. Guido Gonzales presents a heartstirring solo on Flugelhorn.

The Yaqui is written and dedicated to Rudy Romero, who has recently passed away. Rudy was a Yaqui Indian and this song is in honor of his heritage and his infectious personality and playing style. Joseph Diamond mixed it all again, Salsa and more.

What You Gonna Say is a slowtempo Smooth Jazz tune with a intriguing melody and drum-programmed pattern. Andricka Hall and Stephanie James' awesome vocals adds some refrains. Joseph showcases his mastership in all presented genres.

Early Atumn finalized the album with more contemplative and sustained piano play.

As Ernie Rideout (Keyboard Magazine) remarks in the liner notes: this album is challenging. It's not a dance album for one's entertainment, this album requests your constant attention through its various styles and tempos. But this makes Joseph's work outstanding and interesting.

HBH