When Negroni’s Trio reached the 10-year mark in 2012, the band of father and son decided to record an album live for the occasion. The trio’s seventh album, “On The Way,” came out September 24, 2012. The album contains eight original songs and two covers, of “My Way” and “Estate,” done with a killer band in Miami-Dade College Kendall Campus’ Theater in Miami.
Puerto Rican pianist Jose Negroni and his son, drummer Nomar Negroni, come together naturally with acoustic bassist Josh Allen, and several guest artists, for a truly focused musical experience. Nothing is left by the wayside in the making of this album, either.
The piano and the drums are strong, the other instruments add their layers without fanfare, getting down to the business of unfurling the quiet melodic moments with unbelievably complex harmonies. Quite often, the musicians attack from the side in sure-footed, authoritative steps.
“Expression” brings in the lightning rod of saxophonist Ed Calle, riding a hair above Jose Negroni’s unfurling piano stride. Bassist Josh Allen turns in his own stern assessment, matching Negroni’s piston chords. The rhythmic repeat by Negroni is unfailing in its harmonic tease, rising to a fevered pitch without breaking apart.
Part of what makes Negroni’s Trio so great is its revolving door of alternating artists. On this record, it’s Josh Allen on bass. But other bassists have filled in the slot, including John Benítez, Jonathan Estes, Marco Panascia, and Michael Bordelon. The mixing and matching for that singular purpose of elevating jazz into the classicial-Afro-Latin hemisphere is what makes this band unique and… Grammy-nominated.
“Looking For You” allows Ed Calle to freely move on his saxophone while the Negronis more than keep up, Nomar putting in his chopstick flair, always motoring through with an orchestra of taps skipping precocious beats. This is an Afro-Cuban dream.
“Blue Forest” shows Negroni’s flair for the dramatic in his repeats, rolls, and intentional intonations, with his son pulling incongruous but challenging beats at every turn. The picture is one of the father laying down the path, and the son taking a few shortcuts, but always returning home.
The Negroni Trio diverges from the balladeer’s cry in the Frank Sinatra-famous, “My Way,” one of only two covers allowed on this album. The way the trio does it, is as a trippy classical ballet, one unpredictable note at a time. Negroni revs his notes up like a race car driver while performing the base of the melody, without completely giving into the lock of a predictable karaoke, always riding those harmonic counter measures. It’s the master at play.
A student of salsa-Latin-jazz legend Papo Lucca, Jose Negroni was Sony Music Publishing’s director for 10 years before putting this trio together as a fantastic creative outlet. His son, Nomar, is equally qualified for the Latin-jazz role, having come from Berklee, playing the jazz and pop field, and earning a “2008 Best Drummer of the Year” award from the Latin Jazz Corner.
Both produced this fine Latin-jazz album.