It is no easy task to adapt the complexities of John Coltrane's "Naima" to the rhythms of the Caribbean, but that is precisely what vibist and bandleader Dave Samuels has proposed to do since the inception of the Caribbean Jazz Project in 1993. The task at hand is essentially blending the improvisational nature of jazz with tropically flavored Latin beats. On their latest release, the ensemble plays a selection of originals and a handful of covers from Coltrane and others, resulting in a highly enjoyable CD that pleases Afro-Cuban and jazz fans alike. "Five for Elvin" is a tribute to late drummer Elvin Jones, a member of Coltrane's band for six years; it includes a heartfelt solo by saxophonist Luis Hernandes and extended drum and percussion solos from Joe McCarthy and Roberto Quintero. Dizzy Gillespie's "Soul Sauce" comes along quite naturally, since the legendary trumpeter was a fierce advocate of Latin jazz (one of his protégés was Paquito D' Rivera, who often guests with the CJP). The version included here does the tune justice. Samuels' original "Stolen Moments" is one of the disc's few mellow tracks, drawing heavily on the quieter vibe of Brazil's bossa nova. And Thelonious Monk's "Bemsha Swing" is an up-tempo tour de force that clocks close to the eight-minute mark. It's full of the swinging passion that makes Afro-Bop Alliance so fun to enjoy.
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