Scott Martin's back and in as fine a form as ever, backed by a quintet of accompanists for a swingin' lively blow fest amid hip latin rhythms and general uptempo good times. Right from the git-go, the gents are jammin' in 11 long cuts, one of them a full 12:36, Willie Bobo's classic Fried Neck Bones. Martin plays with an emphatic swing and south of the border seasoning, as adamant as Gato Barbieri but without the top-end blare El Gato was so famed for (and which could tend to get to be a bit much in prolonged exposures).
The band is a righteously organic unit, with bassist Ernie Nunez prominent and elastic as hell throughout. You can't suppress the guy, he just lets loose every inch of the way, providing an oceanic pulse with all kinds of squiggles and swoops. More than anything, Martin plays atop his foundations as the band fleshes out tropic atmospheres and balmy airs. Keyboardist Mark Massey has a kind of Bob James feel to him, bridging a classically informed discipline with Dave Benoit, Guaraldi, Brubeck, and kindred others. Things get twisted up and kickin' in Flim Flam, a Martin original, letting Scott wax more angular and trad jazzy. Guitarist Rick White is almost Martin's twin, taking right up where the saxist leaves off, burnishing the solos in added luster.
Another Martin song, Voodoo Juice, sees the front man burning up the stage in trade-offs with Massey, who likewise goes nuts. Ya hafta question how the hell Poncho Sanchez ever let this guy go. The dynamism he brings to the game is unbeatable…but then, every really good musician wants his own gig, so the inquiry answers itself. Even the ballads like Only Trust your Heart have a verve that sparkles and shines. Of course, the closing number, the Bobo tune, is a git-down street-happy ode more or less to being working class and has been well covered—Santana even did a cool-ass version that ya hafta catch on some of those odd bootlegs appearing in K-Mart and elsewhere from time to time—and Martin tosses in quotes from Summertime, Fiddler on the Roof, and a raft of classics. The rendition is almost rainforest tribal, allowing for lots of solos, fills, and group vocals. By the time it's done, you're feeling just a bit winded and happily reaching for another beer, some fried fish, and reflecting on just how good life can be.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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