Canada is noted for its rich ethnic diversity, and in terms of jazz the diversity of the Canadian mosaic comes through pretty clearly in the case of Zapato Negro, also up for the WCMA Best Jazz Album award.
The jazz group bases out of Vancouver, but the line-up is definitely an international one. Gilberto Moreaux on drums and Ivan Soto on congas are both Cuban by birth. Pianist Andre Carrasquero was born in Montreal, cut his teeth in jazz in Caracas, and has toured much of the world. Allan Johnston, the bassist is noted for having performed in a number of Vancouver's hottest bands. Add in that Miguel Valdez, again from Cuba adds trumpet and flugelhorn on five of the nine cuts here, and you see how different cultures come to the fore for Zapato Negro.
Not surprisingly there is a strong Cuban/Latin/Caribbean flavour to this jazz album. Stylistically, the jazz here is progressive, highlighting a nice smooth drum under beat, layered with piano, and punched up a notch every time Valdez adds his horn.
This is a fun CD, one for that afternoon you need a little boost. It's the kind of sound that is infectious in its good nature.
In general terms I find picking a favourite cut on an instrumental jazz album difficult, tending to listen and appreciate it as a whole, but in this case the horn lead numbers including Jazz Tumbao Thing and Caminando stand out most.
This is a really great album and one worth searching out for fans of jazz.
You can find the band on the Internet at www.zapatonegro.com
-- CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Oct 24, 2007 - Yorkton, SK. Canada