FAME Review: Steven Pouchie & His Latin Jazz Ensemble - North by Northeast
Steven Pouchie & His Latin Jazz Ensemble - North by Northeast

North by Northeast

Steven Pouchie & His Latin Jazz Ensemble

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

I think you'll agree with me, ladies and gents, that it's way past time we had more vibes music. The instrument has suffered much since the 60s and 70s, damn near went extinct, and now here comes Steve Pouchie to the rescue! Not a minute too soon, too. And he chose a killer percussion section in Wilson "Chembo" Corniel (who co-produces the disc) and Diego Lopez, the former on hand percussion, the latter on drums. Man o man, they interlock like nobody's business! Sounds like four guys, not just two. Then Pouchie's frequently steel-pan-ish touch on his instrument, especially in the cookin' The Cell, blends beautifully into that lush twosome, putting the top end to their more earthy, clatterous, and brilliant atmospherics.

In the West Side Story Medley, Pouchie's vibes sound more like a celeste, lofting a grandiloquent angelic presence above the rest of the band, who then take over the song halfway through, to marvelous effect. Pouchie descends from the skies to mix in and improv with the gents as everything meshes like a well-oiled machine. My Favorite Things then gets nicely twisted up in an unusual interpretation blending south of the border folk with a respectful take on the original with some great improv from vibes and percussion, the theme fading and returning more than once in the lengthy 7:28 bout.

The recording itself could have used a bit more bottom end, but that lack also makes it airier, more transparent; stilllll…it coulda used a tad more of the bass register! Ray Bryant's old Cuban Chant is the smoothest cut, flowing like a balmy river, sunlight glinting off its surface until it hits a bend in the geography and speeds up, flowing downhill. Triste y Alegre closes out the CD in classic Latin jazz fashion, a peppy grooving affair. In English, 'tryst' is a love affair, but, in Spanish, 'triste' as an adjective means "sad, gloomy"; however, 'Alegre' translates as "glad, cheerful". Hmmmm, I'm not sure why the juxtaposition of the two was made in the title, but this cut is FAR from sad and gloomy. Glad? Cheerful? Yo, that's exactly what you get in every cut in North by Northeast.

Track List:

  • North By Northeast (Steve Pouchie)
  • The Cell (Steve Pouchie)
  • Frenesi Cha Cha (Alberto Dominguez)
  • West Side Story Medley (Bernstein / Sondheim)
  • Tus Ojos (Jose Pepe Delgado)
  • Tunisia By Day (Steve Pouchie)
  • My Favorite Things (Sayer / Hammerstein / Rogers)
  • A Mis Contrarios (Steve Pouchie)
  • Cuban Chant (Ray Bryant)
  • Triste y Alegre (Alletto / Rendon)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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