Freddy Cole is a marvelous singer, combining consummate ease with a lyric and acute sense of melodic and rhythmic phrasing. Whether it's the lost love of the title song or the reliable romance of Cole Porter's "I Concentrate on You," Cole's warm baritone creates the impression that everything he sings has been made up on the spot, as if every lyric is the current sum of his thoughts and experiences. That conversational art is much in evidence in this mix of Brazilian and jazz tunes, extending to the way Cole interacts with his sidemen and they with him. There are two basic groups here, an all-star Latin septet with arrangements by pianist Arturo O'Farrill and Cole's own working quartet, but there are also several permutations in between. O'Farrill's work is tailor-made to Cole's throaty voice, mixing it with contrasting flute and guitar and complementary trombone timbres, the latter provided by Angel "Papa" Vazquez, just one of several superb soloists. Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander adds inventive, hard-swinging tenor to "I Concentrate"; Joe Beck's guitars define the delicacy of Jobim's "Sem Voce," sung here in the original Portuguese; and O'Farrill's piano is a dancing delight whenever it comes to the fore.
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The powerful and challenging California-born sax virtuoso David Murray was heralded in the 1970s as an heir to the searing free-jazz icon Albert Ayler, then developed into the most eclectically receptive of world-musicians, making all-out improv and accessibly rootsy jazz and blues coexist in the most natural-sounding ways. But even by Murray's open standards, this is an unusual venture: he sets his broad-chested sax sound alongside the rasping Argentinian tango vocalist and arranger Daniel Melingo and Cuba's Sinfonieta of Sines ensemble, to reprise Nat King Cole's Latin America recordings, made in Spanish and Portuguese in 1958 and 1961.
Altoist Richie Cole again shows us that bop not only old-fashioned, but it could be quite fun. He performs nine Dizzy Gillespie compositions (plus "You Go to My Head" which was actually co-written by Haven Gillespie) while joined by groups ranging from a two-guitar trio to a 13-piece band, all arranged in colorful fashion by Bob Belden.