William Cepeda
Afrorican Jazz
Blue Jackel (www.bluejackel.com)

Similar in some ways to Steve Turre's recent work, this music is a graceful Latin-jazz project led by trombonist Cepeda, who is also the main soloist. The basic group here is an octet, which is augmented on most of the tunes by various guests, mostly on brass and percussion, including appearances by Slide Hampton and Paquite D'Rivera. Given the number of musicians here, the sound is lighter than one would expect. The writing and arranging (mostly by Cepeda) are nicely varied and take full advantage of his resources without becoming overbearing. The common thread that holds the album together is the smoky sonority of Cepeda's trombone and the subtly insistent percussion groove. Most of the tunes are in the six to seven minute range and cover a lot of territory in that time, but even the more experimental arrangements work well. Throw in a couple of conch shell workouts and the result is impressive and tasty. - Joe Grossman

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