Jazz CD Reviews

Mac Gollehon — La Fama – American Showplace Music

A compilation of performances excellently coordinated to give delight in the realm of Latin jazz and rhythms.

Published on May 27, 2013

Mac Gollehon — La Fama – American Showplace Music

Mac Gollehon — La Fama – American Showplace Music, 68:41 ****:

(Mac Gollehon – trumpet, trombone; Charlie Palmieri – organ; Larry Harlow –  piano, organ; Hilton Ruiz – piano, organ –  Gliberto “El Pulpo” Colon – piano; Alon Nechushten – piano, Wurlitzer; Carlos “Potato” Valdez  –  congas;  Frankie Malaby – congas, bata; SA Davis – congas, bata; Eddie Montalvo – congas; Francisco “Kako” Bastar – timbales; Nicky Marrero – timbales; Pablo Rosario – bongo; Sammy Pagan – bata; Poncho Roman – timbales; Jimmy Delgado – percussion; Ray Colon – percussion).

Mac Gollehon to me is an amazing musician, composer, arranger, leader and teacher in the music world.  A very busy artist who conducts workshops and who has played behind many famous musicians.  The list of those musicians cover several genres of music besides jazz such as pop, rock, and salsa.  His list of credits include Mick Jagger, Duran Duran, Ray and Bobby Cruz, David Bowie and more.  Mac Gollehon is very diversified and an imposing brass man.  I purchased his 2010 album Mac Straight Ahead a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoy it.  He is a strong brass voice with the groups he plays in. Mac’s background includes being a Berklee School of Music graduate and an author.

La Fama is a compilation of live performances from 1980 through 1996 of bands which Mac formed.  There were different combinations of the above musicians.  This album will definitely find just the right Latin fix for your listening pleasure.  Mac puts together very strong-voiced instrumental sections and ties it altogether with his horn playing.  Eight of the eleven songs were written by Mac who also arranged all the tunes.

“La Fama” is the title track of the album of course.   It starts with a medium-paced strong bass line accompanied by the percussion section and Mac breaks in with his brass section, a bit on the exciting side.

It seems like as you progress into each song performed that it builds up a bit in excitement, then levels off and comes back and hits you again.  “New Mac City” begins with an up front cowbell and the rest of the musicians are maintaining a constant riff up and down.  Mac weaves up and down in an upfront volume above the others.

“Introspection” is just a bit on the warm side.  Mac starts for several bars with an opening salvo on trumpet winding up in the high register screaming to be then joined by the rest of artists.  Some really cool percussion sounds along the Afro-Cuban style.

“Fried Neckbones” is a fun song that has been covered by many.  Willie Bobo and Santana spring to mind.  The musicians do a chant about fried neckbones and some home fries with rhythm back-up that is just plain fun. “Donde Lo Hace Duelen” is a hauntingly beautiful song in a slower pace.  About halfway through the tempo picks up slightly.  There is much embellishment with trumpet and muted trumpet on top of harmonic brass voices.

La Fama closes out with a nine-minute version of “Night in Tunisia”.  It starts with the rhythm section and musicians scatting the familiar melody line.  It is then embellished with a muted (Harmon?) trumpet at the beginning.  Assuming that it is Mac he takes out the mute and does some really great Latin trumpeting.  He is joined with interacting solos from the bass player.  You can hear quite a bit of interaction among the players.  My thought is Dizzy Gillespie would have been smiling broadly at this performance.

The album, considering it is a compilation of performances is excellently coordinated to give delight in the realm of Latin jazz and rhythms.  There are some good liner notes by Mac and the sound quality is excellent.

TrackList: 1. La Fama; 2. New Mac City; 3. Introspection; 4. Voices; 5. Casino; 6. Fried Neckbones; 7. Donde Lo Hace Duelen; 8. Fotos De Los Ochentas; 9. Conjunto Moods; 10. Nite Trax; 11. A Night in Tunisia.

—Tim Taylor

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