Last Updated on Sunday, 27 December 2009 22:11 Written by Tom Krehbiel Thursday, 07 September 1995 16:56
Latin jazz places special demands on its creators. A band must sound relaxed while dealing with complex rhythms that require precise, yet energetic, treatment. And no matter how fiery the proceedings get, the musicians must communicate melodically, and honestly. There's no room for untidy musicianship or ego trips. Neither the music nor its audience will tolerate such abuse. (Yes, I have a specific transgression in mind, but that recent CD shall remain nameless here.)
The Bronx Horns, although officially a new group, have a depth of talent and a breadth of experience that immediately place it in the forefront of Latin jazz bands. The three musicians who have taken the significant step of joining under a common name were the horn section in Mongo Santamaria's band for years and currently work together in Tito Puente's orchestra. Yes, they all grew up in the Bronx.
The nominal leader of the group is tenor sax player Mitch Frohman, Bobby Porcelli plays alto sax, and Ray Vega is out front on trumpet and flugelhorn. All three contribute compositions and arrangements. They work with a five piece rhythm section which also has a history of working together in a variety of Latin jazz and Afro-Cuban groups. So while Catch the Feeling is, strictly speaking, a debut CD by a new group, every note rings with the authority that one would expect from veteran players.
The music itself is like a master class in the varieties of Latin jazz. Alongside hip excursions through traditional mambo, bolero, and descarga tracks, the Bronx Horns ease joyfully into a funky salsa groove on the title track, burn some fiery modal jazz over what the notes identify as a Mozambique rhythm, and even take a fresh look at James Moody's classic variation on "I'm In the Mood for Love."
"Mood" is a high point of the disc, but The Bronx Horns can't take complete credit for this new version. Only Porcelli, Frohman, and pianist Oscar Hernandez are part of a larger ensemble for this performance. But no matter, the exquisite feeling matches that of the rest of this excellent recording.
The sonics are nearly as clear, forceful, and communicative as the music itself.tk 1995.09
On going through the archives and getting things ready for publication to the web, I was surprised to see that this review dates back nearly 14 years. The music is still as fresh as tomorrow. I still listen to this CD regularly.
The label info above is out of date, however, and the CD is out of print...twice. A few years ago, Catch the Feeling was picked up by the 32 Jazz label and reissued with a different cover than the original. Since then 32 Jazz has folded.
The Bronx Horns also turned out Silver in the Bronx , a set of Horace Silver tunes. That, too, was issued later by 32 Jazz and is now out of print. Look on Amazon, eBay, and Half.com to find used copies.
Some of the tracks are available as MP3 downloads from Amazon if you feel like going that route. I recommend looking for a used CD and catching the uncompressed feeling.