Everything about Caliente Corner suggests that the multi-instrumentalist Alfredo Chacón is on his way to the pinnacle of his powers – both as a composer and as an instrumentalist. He could well scale greater heights in the future; that remains to be seen, but on musical evidence right here and now even if Mr. Chacón achieves nothing better than (he has) on the music of this album, he will have ample reason to be proud. It is an album of wonderful music, and Mr. Chacón uses his own heavyweight presence to draw out the finest from a group that also includes several other heavyweights – trumpeter Brian Lynch and pianist Iván “Melón” Lewis, for instance. However, the rest of the celestial roster is nothing to sneer at either and while many of those present might not have the same so-called “star power” they are virtuoso masters of their instruments and the Latin (and Jazz) idioms.
The title of the album is most appropriate. The music burns in the hottest and “bluest” part of the flame of Latin-Jazz. It’s all a joyous dancing mix of traditional Afro-Cuban idioms and forms melting in with freer improvised music. Mr. Chacón is at the heart of this music bringing his resplendent vibraphone to the music that is often redolent of the blues. On “Ni Pilón, Ni Changüí” the musicians revisit the threads of deeply African spirituality as the song morphs into a modern masterpiece of subtlety, but not before it collides with hi-life rhythms as well as discordant rock-style licks. “Go with the Flow” has a rippling jazz groove that builds gently under Mr. Chacón’s complex radiant arpeggios and dazzling runs. The title track features Mr. Lynch with a searing solo as Mr. Chacón and the rest of the band launch into a broodingly percussive tumbling groove before a loose, funky close.
By contrast, the band swings on “Cha Con Cha” and on the whimsically entitled “Dance On” before Mr. Chacón leads his procession in on the reflective “Comparsa Lullaby.” The considerable degree of balance and integration of melody, harmony, and rhythm, of composition and improvisation, of exploration, individuality, and tradition is impressively balanced and maintained throughout. The recorded sound balances detail and warmth and the music – whether slow or lightning fast – is touching and toe-tapping in equal measure.
Tracklist – 1: Hurry Up; 2: Hazme Caso; 3: 48 Horas; 4: Out for a Walk; 5: Caliente Corner; 6: Larela’s Song; 7: Ni Pilón, Ni Changüí; 8: Mamblues Se Fué a La Guerra; 9: Go with the Flow (Carmencita no llores); 10: Cha Con Cha; 11: Dance On; 12: Comparsa Lullaby
Personnel – Alfredo Chacón: vibraphone and percussion; Georvis Pico: drums; Iván “Melón” Lewis: piano (1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 12); Gito Maletá: piano (3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11); Iván Ruíz Machado: bass (3, 4, 6, 8, 9 – 12); Rodner Padilla: bass (1, 2, 5); Yadam González: bass (7); Aldo Salvent: soprano, alto and tenor saxophones; Brian Lynch: trumpet (1, 5); Carlos Puig: trumpet (8, 9, 12) and flugelhorn (6); Julio Montalvo: trombone (5, 7, 12); Osvaldo Fleitas: trumpet (1); Bryan Kennard: flute (3).
Released – 2018
Label – Chacón Music
Runtime – 1:11:06