Bob Masteller,
The Jazz Corner Swings Latin
(independent, 2005)

You get to sit in on a live performance of Bob Masteller at the Jazz Corner with all the added noises that entails on The Jazz Corner Swings Latin. While it is always nice to hear the audience applause, the same cannot be said of the background thrum of conversations over food and the noises that come with that.

On the night of the recording, the quartet of Norm Gagne (piano), Clarence Williams (bass), Chris Russell (drums) and Mark Husbands (congas) were joined by Bob Masteller (vibes). (There is reference to a vocalist in the liner notes, but those songs did not find their way on to the CD.)

The vibes define the sound of "Satin Doll" early on, and then the melody shifts over to the piano. If you listen very carefully you can hear the phrasing of the lyrics in "S'Wonderful," but when the music is so smooth, it is easy to forget there are no lyrics. Then comes "East of the Sun" and the bass gets a chance to dance to the fore for a while. "Candy" is sweet and as smooth as lounge jazz can be, which makes it relaxing and helps you forget how long it is.

Once again they bring out the phrasing of the lyrics in "The Preacher," and the energy of a great live performance is hard to miss. The energy continues into "Perdido" as the music seems to drift from the shade on a hot, sunny day. The day slides into night for "Dream." As the piece progresses, it becomes more vibrant and lively. "Out of Nowhere" feels more dreamlike than "Dream," being both a quieter and lighter piece. There is a wry touch to the melody of "Darn the Dream" that gives the piece a sense of laughing at itself.

"That's All" starts out with one of the catchier beats on the CD; the drive runs through the entire piece, which is the longest track on the CD. The last piece, "America the Beautiful," ends with a bit of "Yankee Doodle."

Bob Masteller and friends gave a delightful evening of jazz that was recorded for The Jazz Corner Swings Latin. The music is consistent and the pieces flow neatly from one into the other.

There is also a lot of music with pieces ranging from 5 to 10 minutes. If you are looking for some good, safe jazz, this CD would be a good choice. If you are in their neck of the woods, go hear them perform live.

by Paul de Bruijn
2 September 2006

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