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The Reckless Search for Beauty

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Album Review

Some jazz musicians — certainly not all jazz musicians, but some jazz musicians — can be very stereotypical jazz snobs (the sort of folks who refuse to see the value in any music other than jazz and wouldn't know Joan Jett from Joan Baez or Mary J. Blige from Mary Chapin Carpenter). But trombonist/bandleader/arranger Wayne Wallace is a jazz musician with a more broad-minded outlook, which serves him nicely on The Reckless Search for Beauty. This is a jazz-oriented disc that gets a lot of inspiration from Latin music as well as soul/funk. Of course, the term "Latin music" refers to many different things: in the San Francisco Bay Area (where Wallace is based), there is a huge Mexican-American community that buys a lot of norteño, banda, ranchera and duranguense. But Wallace turns to the more African-influenced areas of Latin music for inspiration; Afro-Cuban elements are prominent on "El Rio de Oro," "La Encantadora," "Nadie" and "Paso a Paso" (all Wallace originals) as well as tasteful versions of Miles Davis' "Tune Up" and Bill Withers' "Use Me" (which is among the tracks that features singer Alexa Weber-Morales). "Rhythm & Rhyme," however, has more of an Afro-Brazilian/samba flavor. The Reckless Search for Beauty is an intriguing title for this 2006 recording; Wallace is definitely searching for musical beauty, but the performances (some totally instrumental, some with vocals) never sound reckless — perhaps restless, but not reckless (or careless or haphazard). Actually, this CD manages to sound very focused while offering a fair amount of surprises (including a bolero-style performance of Duke Ellington's "Chromatic Love Affair" and an arrangement of M***o Santamaria's "Afro-Blue" that includes both English lyrics by Oscar Brown, Jr. and Spanish lyrics by Ricardo Pereiro). Although not aimed at jazz purists, The Reckless Search for Beauty is well worth hearing if one likes his/her Latin jazz and post-bop with a dose of funk and soul.

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