Latin Jazz

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The Latin Jazz genre at JMA is a catch all genre for jazz bands that use Latin rhythms, but do not fit our Bossa Nova or Afro Cuban genres. Many of the bands listed here mix rhythms from Brazil, Cuba, Central America and Africa in ways that are not always easy to categorize or define.

latin jazz top albums

Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 60 min. caching

ASTOR PIAZZOLLA Tango: Zero Hour / Nuevo Tango: Hora Zero Album Cover Tango: Zero Hour / Nuevo Tango: Hora Zero
ASTOR PIAZZOLLA
5.00 | 3 ratings
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GATO BARBIERI Chapter Three: Viva Emiliano Zapata (aka Gato Barbieri) Album Cover Chapter Three: Viva Emiliano Zapata (aka Gato Barbieri)
GATO BARBIERI
4.91 | 4 ratings
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GATO BARBIERI Under Fire Album Cover Under Fire
GATO BARBIERI
4.89 | 3 ratings
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CAL TJADER Cal Tjader-Stan Getz Sextet Album Cover Cal Tjader-Stan Getz Sextet
CAL TJADER
4.95 | 2 ratings
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GATO BARBIERI Chapter Four: Alive in New York Album Cover Chapter Four: Alive in New York
GATO BARBIERI
4.95 | 2 ratings
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CAL TJADER Amazonas Album Cover Amazonas
CAL TJADER
4.95 | 2 ratings
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CAL TJADER Cuban Fantasy Album Cover Cuban Fantasy
CAL TJADER
4.95 | 2 ratings
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CAL TJADER Soul Sauce Album Cover Soul Sauce
CAL TJADER
4.68 | 4 ratings
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GATO BARBIERI Yesterdays (aka The Third World Revisited) Album Cover Yesterdays (aka The Third World Revisited)
GATO BARBIERI
4.63 | 4 ratings
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MILTON NASCIMENTO Geraes Album Cover Geraes
MILTON NASCIMENTO
4.67 | 3 ratings
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MILTON NASCIMENTO Courage Album Cover Courage
MILTON NASCIMENTO
4.75 | 2 ratings
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MILTON NASCIMENTO Milton Nascimento & Som Imaginario ‎: Milagre Dos Peixes (Gravado Ao Vivo) Album Cover Milton Nascimento & Som Imaginario ‎: Milagre Dos Peixes (Gravado Ao Vivo)
MILTON NASCIMENTO
4.75 | 2 ratings
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latin jazz Music Reviews

KAT PARRA Songbook of the Américas

Album · 2016 · Latin Jazz
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js
Taking a quick glance at vocalist Kat Parra’s new CD, you might get the impression that this is another one of those ‘Great American Songbook’ albums, but a closer look at the title reveals an important extra ‘s’, as the correct title is “Songbook of the Americas”, with the word ‘Americas’ letting us know that these songs include the entire north and south continents, from Chile to the USA. Kat covers a lot of ground on here with songs that come from Cuba, Peru, Argentina and more, and styles as varied as mambo, cha-cha, be-bop, rumba and much more. None of this is out of her reach, as Parra is well versed in vocal styles all over the globe.

“Songbook of the Americas” opens nicely with a mambo version of the well known standard, “Four”, for which Kat added new lyrics. This is followed by a cha-cha version of Betty Carter’s sassy “Please do Something” and a swinging version of Bird’s “Au Privave” (re-titled “Wouldn’t it be Sweet”), for which Kat once again provided new lyrics. The album picks up a bit when Tuck and Patti join Kat on her original “Dare to Dream”, as Kat and Patti’s harmonizing together is truly remarkable, but things really start to take off when Kat settles into more traditional Latin fare.

Something happens to Parra’s voice when she sings in Spanish on “Maria Lando”, Veinte Anos” and “Como La Cigarra”. These Latin songs call for a different style of singing and it seems to fit Kat well as she brings the power and passion in her voice up a few notches. The album closes out with four more tracks, including a vocal duet with Nate Pruitt on a rumba version of “Till there was You”. Album closer, “Mambo Italiano”, brings things to an end with a sense of humor.

There are a lot of pluses on “Songbook of the Americas”, Kat’s many duets with her guests are all outstanding, and her contributions in writing and arranging show that she is much more than just a singer. This album will probably be one of the more original vocal albums to come out this year.

CHICO HAMILTON The Best Of Chico Hamilton

Boxset / Compilation · 1969 · Latin Jazz
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js
“The Best of Chico Hamilton” is a collection of music that Hamilton recorded for the Impulse label. These songs were recorded between 1963 and 66, and were so ahead of their time, that even though “Best of” did not come out until 1969, most of these songs were still ahead of the curve. Much of that first wave of fusion and Latin fusion that will hit in the late 60s can be traced back to Hamilton’s mid 60s albums on Impulse. Even following the musicians tells a story, as Hamilton’s saxophonist on several of these cuts, Charles Lloyd, will leave Hamilton’s band to form an early proto fusion group with Jack DeJohnette and Keith Jarret, both of whom will eventually join Miles Davis’ early fusion group. You can also hear the beginnings of the west coast Latin rock movement on many of these songs too.

Almost all of these tracks feature a core group of Al Stinson on bass, Gabor Szabo on guitar and Hamilton on drums. Gabor is by far the main soloist, with Charles Lloyd showing up on a few tracks, and Larry Coryell covering guitar on one blues track that sounds out of place with the rest of the material. Most of the cuts on “Best of Chico” are pretty solid, with a few that are not the best, which leads to the question, did the producers of this album pick the best material? Overall it seems they didn’t do too bad of a job; songs like “Forest Flower” and “Conquistadors” are essential early Latin fusion, and “Evil Eye” is an excellent exotic gem, but two well known pop ballades, while played imaginatively, maybe could have been replaced with something a little more substantial. Finally, Coryell’s bluesy “Larry of Arabia” is pure fluff and a waste of space.

Chico Hamilton played a wide variety of styles during the course of his career, and this album is a fairly good, but not outstanding, sampling of what he was up to during the mid 60s.

CHICO HAMILTON El Chico

Album · 1965 · Latin Jazz
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js
Chico Hamilton is one of the more overlooked artists to come out of the west coast’s creative music scene in the late 50s and early 60s. A second look at his career is deserved as he helped originate that peculiarly west coast style of jam session that draws on Latin and Asian influences, as well as an open “anything goes’ sort of attitude. His combination of Latin rhythms and raga style modal excursions will blossom during the late 60s Latin rock explosion involving Santana, Malo, Azteca, El Chicano and more, and his music will also influence many of the new fusion bands such as the early Return to Forever.

In many ways, Chico’s “El Chico” is mostly a collection of jam sessions, and there are plenty of great solos, mostly from guitarist Gabor Szabo, but much of this record is more about the Latin grooves and the way the band’s three member percussion section rides those grooves. Gabor shines with his ‘raga’ style guitar solos that slowly build, many songs feature only Gabor, but there are also occasional flute and sax solos from the brilliant Sadao Watanabe.

Some highlights on here include side two opener “Conquistadors”, with its driving Latin boogaloo beat, and “El Moors”, a percussion driven exotic flute melody with a bit of Sun Ra flavor. The albums peaks though with “Strange”, an alto sax ballade that Hamilton used to play with Eric Dolphy. This is Sadao ‘s moment to shine as he plays the beautiful melody while invoking Dolphy’s idol, Charlie Parker, as well as Eric himself. Fans of west coast jazz from the late 50s to the early 60s know that this music exists in a world all its own, and Chico’s “El Chico” is a great example of that world of bongo beating beatniks that will soon give way to acid rock and jazz fusion.

LENNY SENDERSKY Desert Flower

Album · 2013 · Latin Jazz
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kev rowland
‘Desert Flower’ is a culmination of the sound that Lenny (alto and soprano saxophone) and Tony (guitar) have been working on over the last few years since they first met and started playing together at the Christiania Jazz Club In Copenhagen, Denmark in June 2010. Since then they have been working together as a partnership, touring in Lenny’s home country of Russia. On this album they have been joined by Randy Brecker (trumpet), Joe Locke (vibraphone), Cleve Douglass (vocals), Steve LaSpina (bass) and Matt Kane (drums). There is a wonderful group feel about this album, as while both Lenny and Tony are incredible soloists they are more than happy to take a pace backwards and let others shine in the spotlight when the time is right. This is mostly an instrumental album, which has at its’ foundation a wonderful rhythm section, who are playing incredibly complex counter melodies and notes that allows the soloists to really move in and around the music. Lenny has a wonderfully warm tone, while Tony seems to be happiest when providing the perfect accompaniment and doesn’t take the lead as often as one would think. Randy and Joe aren’t always in the sound, but when they come in they have major impact to the piece, either as soloists, taking part in a duet, or providing another soundboard for Lenny to play against. This is mainstream jazz, much more refined than what I normally listen to, and because of that I found that although I enjoyed it the very first time I played it, it took quite a while to discern and understand all the layers. It is when they up the tempo as on “Horizons” that they really start to cook, with Matt driving them onwards and Randy and Lenny in perfect harmony at the forefront while Tony provides the support.

A wonderful warm, expressive and impressive album, that fans of mainstream jazz should look out for. www.lennysendersky.com

MARIUS GUNDERSEN Retrato Brasileiro

Album · 2012 · Latin Jazz
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js
Marius Gundersen is a classical guitarist from Norway who also plays Brazilian music. If your prejudices are telling you that this is an odd fit, you couldn’t be more wrong. Gundersen has a wonderful feel for the Bossa Nova rhythms of Brazil. His touch is so light and delicate, and his rhythms are so subtle and supple, that I’m sure he has made many native Brazilian guitarists jealous. When you get into the higher echelons of classical performance, its all about control and all the different shades of lightness you can bring to a piece. Gundersen’s ability to play lightly, but with strength, makes “Retrato Brasileiro” one of the best guitar albums to come out so far this year. If you are a fan of mastered technique, Gundersen’s playing will be sweet delicate music to your ears.

Gundersen pulls from many sources to assemble his songs on this CD. There are many classics from Brazilian composers such as Antonio Carlos Jobim and Baden Powell, as well as six originals composed by Gundersen himself. Particularly nice is Gundersen’s bitter sweet melody on “Obrigado” that closes out the CD. All of the songs on here flow together smoothly creating an endless stream of intricate acoustic guitar sounds. You don’t need serious knowledge in Brazilian music to enjoy “Retrato Brassileiro”, this CD has cross appeal for fans of all kinds of instrumental music from modern classical to contemporary jazz. Some may even say this CD makes for great background music, but it is even better when you give it a serious listen.

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JMA TOP 5 Jazz ALBUMS

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