Review: Wayne Wallace Jazz Quintet - To Hear from There

Sitting in on this jazz conversation is a spicy affair. Bring water.
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Wayne Wallace QuintetThe Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet sizzles all over their spicy new record To Hear from There, engaging with grooves from the soul and rhythm from the hip.

The trombonist and composer from San Francisco follows up his Grammy-nominated ¡Bien Bien! with this corker and he leaves nothing out of the arrangements. Along with Murray Low (piano), Michael Spiro (Latin percussion), David Belove (bass), and Paul van Wageningen (trap drums), Wallace blasts through this collection of standards and originals with a style and precision most only dream of.

There's a straightforwardness to Wallace's presentation that sucks all of the nonsensical peripherals out of the game in favour of blazing, cruising joy. He plays with such spirit that it's hard to believe at times, yet there's always an accessibility to his delivery. Never pretentious, Wallace is one of those refreshing players dedicated to the beauty of conversation that happens deep within all great jazz music. He doesn't hold his music out of reach.

To Hear from There features an adventurous assortment of rhythms, allowing the quintet plenty of space to frolic through the organic paces of beautiful music from around the world. There's big slices of Latin jazz, mambo, cha cha cha, and tropical grooves.

The journey of Wallace's new record is something special. Designed around the concept of conversation, To Hear from There is as much about listening to one another as it is about blowing the hell out of these fine arrangements. "One of the things I love about the quintet is that there's a constant conversation happening, whether between two or five players," says Wallace.

From the opening notes of the Havana-inspired "La Escuela," a sharp timba number that revs into a dangerously danceable salsa, to the closing Tito Puente-composed "Philadelphia Mambo," Wallace's group keeps the dialogue going with plenty of hot verbs and toned phrasing.

The fun mambo of "Perdido," a tune by Duke Ellington Orchestra player Juan Tizol, is highlighted by Kenny Washington's glorious vocals and a delicious undertone of delicate percussion. Low's solo is a fantastic counterpoint to Washington's singing, sliding over the percussion elegantly.

"Ogguere (Soul of the Earth)" is one of the more inventive pieces on the record. Wallace gives the Gilberto Valdes tune a glaze of Latin jazz and the results are haunting, hypnotic and downright funky. The rhythm section drops in one sweet Afro groove and drills it into 6/8 effortlessly, leaving plenty of space for Wallace's warm trombone.

Wallace's To Hear from There is the perfect follow-up to ¡Bien Bien!, that's for sure. Released on the musician's own Patois Records, this record is an unquestionable treat for those who like their Latin jazz zesty.