Concord Picante

REVIEW by Willard Manus
Concord Records has been a leader in the field of Latin jazz ever since 1980, when it issued Cal Tjader's La Onda Va Bien. Now the company has celebrated the date's 25th anniversary by releasing a 4-CD boxed set, CONCORD PICANTE. Haven't listened to the whole set, only Concord's promotional sampler, which consists of twelve tracks by the likes of Tjader, Mongo Santamaria, Charlie Byrd, Tito Puente, Chick Corea and Eddie Palmieri.

Tjader's Mambo Mindoro track is taken from his ground-breaking album and features his light, joyous touch on vibes. Equally captivating is a 1985 vocal by Tania Maria, Sangria, during which she scats with fiery intensity in front of a live audience. Byrd's offering features him on guitar and Ken Peplowski on flute as they both get deep into the bossa nova.

Corea's contribution is Soul Sauce, on which the veteran pianist teams up with Poncho Sanchez, Peter Escovedo, Dave Samuels and Dave Valentin on the Dizzy Gillespie/Sanchez composition which has become a Latin jazz classic. Ditto Herbie Hancock's Watermelon Man, for which he won an Emmy back in 1962. The rollicking Concord version is by Sanchez and Santamaria, who recorded it in 1996 on Congo Blue.