As if he knew the day would come when the United States would normalize relations with Cuba, six-time Grammy nominee Wayne Wallace celebrates the deepening cultural connection between the two nations. Intercambio (Patois Records, 2015) brings the Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet together with several additional players.
Wallace is a composer, producer, arranger, trombonist and head of the Patois label. The rest of the quintet are David Belove, bass; Colin Douglas, trap drums, timbales and percussion; Murray Low, piano; and Michael Spiro, congas, bongo, percussion and arrangements. Guest artists who appear here and there are Mary Fetig, flute; Mads Tolling, Jenna Barghouti and Joy Vucekovich, violin; Benjamin Wagner, viola; Graham Cullen, cello; Joe Galvin, steel drum and percussion; Dan Coffman, Brennan Johns and Sean Weber, trombone; and Edgardo Cambon, Jesus Diaz and John Santos, vocals.
“Casa Del Sol” opens the set. With Fetig and Tolling adding some depth, it’s a stylish mambo piece, dedicated to Eddie Palmieri. As described in the liner notes, the music reflects Palmieri’s love for the cross-cultural effects of Cuban music with McCoy Tyner, Thelonious Monk and jazz. The rhythm section is a centerpiece throughout, but Tolling and Wallace get moments to stretch out a bit.
“Guarachando” is inspired by the Cuban Comparsa, described as a development of traditional African processions where devotees follow a saint or deity during a religious celebration. Fetig, Tolling and additional trombonists and vocalists add to this festive piece. One can easily imagine the entire ensemble performing while parading through the streets of a city, luring others to dance and follow along.
Wallace’s career spans four decades. The San Francisco native has collaborated with many stars on the music scene, including Count Basie, Ray Charles, Joe Henderson, Carlos Santana, Lionel Hampton, Earth, Wind and Fire, Sonny Rollins, Aretha Franklin, Tito Puente, Lena Horne, John Lee Hooker, Stevie Wonder and Earl “Fatha” Hines. And over the years, Wallace has been a mover and shaker on the Bay Area Latin jazz scene, including Volumes 1 and 2 of Salsa De La Bahia (Patois Records, 2013-2014).
Wallace composed four of the 10 tracks on Intercambio. The other songs include compositions by Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Dizzy Gillespie.