Review: Havana Jam 2

This was a recommendation I posted on Lala. I actually had more to say at the time but, had to edit to keep within Lala’s length constraints.Now that Lala’s gone, here is that original recommendation:By the way, a CD of this album is selling for $35-$50 on amazon.com.

This is a recording of an historical event, a fusion of jazz and Cuban music featuring American musicians in Cuba for the first time in over 20 years.

It was listening to the sounds of Arturo Sandoval and Irakere on a FM radio that led me to purchase a vinyl copy of this 2 LP album at the time of it’s release.

Now, I treasure the contrasting tenor treatments of “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” by Dexter Gordon and Stan Getz. Gordon artfully weaves melodies from other standards into his lines and caps his performance with a cadenza that, while lengthy, maintains a delightful tension. After applause, the listener hears Getz’s tone and quickly wonders how this could be the same instrument that Gordon was playing! I have listened to this solo dozens of times and it just doesn’t get old. Getz is quoted in the liner notes; “Dexter…had done such a beautiful job with the melody, I decided I’d stay away from a melodic approach to the tune.” The approach worked! It is possibly my favorite Getz recording.

Also, careful listening and Milkowski’s Jaco biography have led me to believe that the solid tracks by “Trio of Doom” – Tony Williams, Jaco Pastorius and John McLaughlin – are from Columbia’s 52nd Street studio and not the Karl Marx Theater in Havana. Replacing the live recordings from Cuba might seem to diminish the album’s value as an historical record but, including those tracks would have made this an embarrassing memento of the beginning of Pastorius’ mental decline.