Groove is at the heart of Angel Eyes (Zoho Music, 201408), Afro Bop Alliance’s potent 11-track debut release for the Zoho Music record label. In addition to a special performance with the St. Claire Chamber Strings, the septet is joined by vocalist Sara Jones on “Nature Boy,” and special guests Paquito D’Rivera and Roberto Quintero on select tracks. The rhythmically charged GRAMMY award-winning ensemble presents an exciting collage of jazz, brilliant solos, and new arrangements of some of your favorite songs including Horace Silver’s “Barbara,” “Nature Boy,” Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge” and Wayne Shorter’s “This is for Albert.” Several new compositions by the ensemble’s newest member and steel pans player, Victor Provost, rounds out this excellent program of scintillating music.
Opening with “The Jinx” this song’s mesmerizing son montunos groove sets the standard for the entire program. “Three For Juju” is based on a joropo groove from Venezuela and features Harry Appelman’s inspired solo. Most audiophiles will recognize the cha-cha-cha rhythms in “Ziggy the Crooner,” while Horace Silver’s “Barbara” receives an updated rhythmic spin with great soloing by tenor saxophonist Luis Hernandez.
Clarinetist Paquito D’Rivera joins the fun as Roberto Quintero elevates "Homenaje" with his fiery conga playing. Sara Jones delivers “Nature Boy” with passion amid the accompaniment of the St. Claire Chamber Strings. By contrast, Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge” is given a percolating new clave-fueled arrangement that will have you on your feet. As Joe McCarthy explodes on drums at the intro, Luis Hernandez and Victor Provost contribute excellent solos on this jazz classic.
The title track, “Angel Eyes” which is often heard as a ballad has been totally re-arranged as an up-tempo son montunos groove that features brilliant soloing by trumpeter Tim Stanley. Wayne Shorter would be proud of the new designs for “This is for Albert” with is ever-changing time signatures that keep this jazz classic truly interesting. Overall, the Afro Bop Alliance continue the jazz tradition of fusing the elements of jazz with world rhythms to achieve a fresh mixture of grest sounds that keeps the music happening with their fans around the world.