Jazz CD Reviews

Pete Escovedo – Live From Stern Grove – Concord Picante

A high energy outing from a Latin Jazz master.

Published on December 22, 2012

Pete Escovedo – Live From Stern Grove – Concord Picante

Pete Escovedo – Live From Stern Grove – Concord Picante CPI-34111, 52:46 ****:

(Pete Escovedo – leader, timbales, vocals; Juan Escovedo – congas, percussion, vocals; Peter Michael Escovedo – drums, vocals; Joe Rotondi – piano; Marc VanWageningen – bass; Michael Angel Alvarado – guitar; Mario Gonzales – trumpet; Louis Fasman – trombone; Kerry Loeschen – trombone;  Joel Behrman – trombone; Melecio Magaluyo – sax, flute)

The old saying “blood is thicker than water” certainly applies to Pete Escovedo Live From Stern Grove when the Pater Familias Pete, is joined by his two sons Juan and Peter Michael, along with daughter Sheila E. on two tracks, to deliver a smashing Latin Jazz blowout.

With Escovedo fronting a bustling and effervescent ten-piece band, the ensemble romps through eight Latin Jazz selections with special guests on five of the tracks. Setting the pace with the opening tune “Picadillo Jam,” the timbales, congas, and percussion provide the dynamic color and texture that permeates the entire album. Each of the following tracks has its own sensibility, rhythm, and pace so that the full panoply of Latin music is explored. ”Take Some Time” latches on to a slow- paced mambo groove which then segues into “Brasiliero” which has a smooth jazz feel with some unison horn playing, and guest guitarist Ray Obiedo leading the band with some tough riffs.

The brilliance of this live recording, generating immediate audience feedback, spurs the band into a high energy salsa interpretation of “Dance” with Pete’s daughter Sheila E. pitching in on vocals and congas. Her impact can also be felt on “Solo Tu” where her skills are on full display. The set concludes with “Suenos De Los Toreros,” a show piece once used by the Stan Kenton band, but here with guest trumpeter Arturo Sandoval reaching for the upper register on his instrument to generate the appropriate electricity.

This is an album full of rhythmic and harmonic attack that keeps your toes tapping and body moving.

TrackList: Picadillo Jam; Take Some Time; Brasiliero; Dance; True Or False; Solo Tu; Fly Me To The Moon; Suenos De Los Toreros.

—Pierre Giroux

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