Bennett Paster: Paster (piano).
Personnel: Bennett Paster (piano); Yosvany Terry Cabrera (saxophone); Chris Cheek (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Alex Norris (trumpet, flugelhorn, claves); Ryan Cuban (bass instrument); Gregory Ryan (acoustic bass, electric bass); Gilad , Dafnis Prieto (percussion).
Audio Mixers: Gregory Ryan; Bennett Paster.
Recording information: Bennett Studios, Englewood, NJ (05/17/2006/05/18/2006).
Grupo Yanqui indeed rides again, as the excellent pianist Bennett Paster, bassist Gregory Ryan and drummer Keith Hall bump up their previously recorded efforts as a trio to a sextet, emphasizing modern jazz on the Afro-Cuban side. Tenor saxophonist Chris Cheek, trumpeter Alex Norris. and hand percussionist Gilad help churn up a tasty mix of music that has a distinct contemporary flair and an underpinning of the Latin sounds that have melded with jazz over the past 50 years. Paster and Ryan wrote the bulk of the music, tailored to the estimable talents of the horn players, and sport a fluid dynamic that is hard to dismiss as anything less than impressive. Among the hippest of tunes are "If Woody Had Gone Right to the Police...," with its popping horn lines, montuno piano, and soaring musicianship. "The Chick from Panama" represents one of several direct references to Chick Corea's intelligent designs, with the off minor elements and boyish joy of "The Kid from Albuquerque" very much influenced by the famous pianist. "Tones for Joan's Bones," a Corea penned favorite among many, is given a distinct spiced up flavor, with Cheek's tenor playing quite elevated. Though speciously titled, "The Unabonger" is half reassuring and approachable, half deep, heavy, and dark blue, while the bluesy waltz "PoMoAfroMoFoJo" perfectly re-creates the modern Blue Note sound of Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and early period Woody Shaw, while "El Vaquero Numero Cinco" is a loping, slower, 5/4 clave paced tune where the horn players truly sing. A cover of Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge" unfolds slowly and soulfully -- a nice adaptation of this well-worn melody. No matter the criteria, this wonderful music would be difficult to nitpick, for it is not copped, derivative, or clichéd on any but the minutest levels. Given that many artists in recent times have mixed the Latin and jazz genres, Grupo Yanqui are not only riding high, but also streaking ahead of similar groups. ~ Michael G. Nastos