1. Smooth/2. Take The "A" Train/3. Manhattan
At Dusk/4. The County Bass Line/5. Campanilla/6. The Lady Is A Tramp/7.
Tequila/8. Ikyat/9. 1987 B.C./ 10. How High The Moon/ 11. My True Blue Oti/
12. Crazy Rhythm/ 13. Azafran/ 14. It's A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood
(Theme from Mr. Roger's Neighborhhod)/ 15. Shoo Fly Pie/ 16. Skeeters'
Rich Szabo's big band is a hard charging,
fully contemporary ensemble that eschews flirtation with fusion and other
flavors of the month. - a dash of funk and a strong Latin feel pervade many
of the pieces on this album, as rightly befits a New York-rooted ensemble.
Szabo actually weighs in as an arranger on two tracks only (Tequila
and "A" Train), leaving the lion's share of the honors in the original
composition/charts department to tenorman Larry Puentes, whose work comes
out well on all counts.
All of the charts on Manhattan At
Dusk are high caliber - Puentes has a special fondness for complex reed
section work (and for Toshiko Akiyoshi-like flute lead intros) and
consistantly-shifting tempi, and he often pits the brass against the saxes
in very effective ways. Three of the best Puentes-crafted custs are
"How High The Moon", "Azafran", and (believe it or not) "It's A Beautiful
Day In The Neighborhood", which is a very up and hard-swinging "Mr. Rogers'
theme song featuring a cutting competition between altoists Vinci and Kirchner,
who successfully segue from the main theme to the changes of "A Foggy Day"
and back again with great swagger and savvy. As might be expected,
Puentes' originals are out of the Latin jazz mold (as well as being very
funky - he likes slap bass). Puentes solos on one cut only ("Manhattan
At Dusk") and frankly it's a shame that we don't get to hear more of
Szabo (who sounds a lot like
the young Maynard Ferguson) is of the let's-keep-'em-rockin' school of thought
- witness his inclusion of "Tequila", which actually comes off quite well.
(Yeah, it's goofy, and admitting that you like the song might be tantamount
to saying that you also dig "Wipeout", but this listener found the track
to be a real kick. Guess there's no accounting for
It should be duly noted that everyone
in the ensemble plays hard and well - Ken Sebesky provides some terrific
fill and some nice solos, as does pianist Biff
Although there are some repetitive cuts
on Manhattan At Dusk (and the standards, on the whole, do not come
off with a lot of freshness), most any fan of hard bop with a Latin touch
should be able to get a lot of listening pleasure from this