Great jazz quintet with latin overtones
Peter J. Riley | Newburyport, MA USA | 06/05/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Flutest, composer and bandleader Roger Ebacher returns to the record racks with "Backyard Carneval," his second CD. "Backyard Carneval" allows Ebacher and his band to stretch out and explore their love of Latin rhythms. By adding percussionist Michael Wingfield to his usual quartet setting Ebacher gave the band the extra seasoning it needed to cook up a Latin soul stew. The CD comes out swinging with "Nomadic Drill," a pure jazz groove that could be right off one of your old Horace Silver or Lee Morgan Blue Note LPs. Drummer Denny Pelletier keeps things churning and bassist Thomas Hebb is funky and swinging, backing fine solos from pianist Michael Shea and Ebacher on melody flute. The band then settles into a warm and mellow Latin groove for two original tunes "Tropicalese" and "Daren's Song." These tunes again boast excellent solos from Ebacher and Shea. A highlight from the new CD is the smoking "Brazilian Punch" where the rhythm section of Pelletier, Wingfield and bassist Paul Beaudry are absolutely on fire. The tune starts out with a wonderful unison melody played by Shea on piano and Ebacher on flute. Drummer Pelletier reminds me of Tony Williams laying down explosive riffs on his drums behind the soloist. The listener can feel the power of this great rhythm section as it inspires and pushes the soloists to greater heights. I suspect that as this band performs and continues to mature, tunes like "Brazilian Punch" will become concert showpieces for the band. It would be hard to imagine any audience sitting through "Brazilian Punch." Ebacher plays a Casio Digital Horn on a beautiful duet with Shea on the tune "Pour Elle." Shea's thick, melodic chord solo is one of the high points of the disk. Wingfield's congas are front and center for the closing title tune. The churning Latin funk of "Backyard Carneval" is a perfect ending to this fine effort. This CD boasts a quality that exists on Ebachers first CD, the excellent "Flutation Device." While "Flutation Device" was a bit more of a traditional jazz effort it had the quality of being easy to listen to without being easy listening. Ebacher and his band are consistently able to produce jazz that has depth, sophistication and feeling without falling into the "smooth jazz" genre. "Backyard Carneval" is a direct 2-track digital recording and sounds first-rate. If there is any justice in the music world "Backyard Carneval" will land regularly in CD players as folks enjoy the warm summer months..."