Wayne Wallace 

The Nature of the Beat

It's multi-talented multi-taskers like Wayne Wallace that can make one feel how, uh, little one has accomplished in comparison. Bay Area music wizard Wallace is a trombonist, composer, arranger, producer, and educator whose extensive résumé includes Pete Escovedo, Steve Winwood, Con Funk Shun, and McCoy Tyner. He's got more credits than you've had hot breakfasts ever, and he still makes time for a solo career. The Nature of the Beat is his fourth disc, and while the genre-tag of "Latin jazz" is close enough, this set chronicles Wallace's continuing ventures in creating music wherein Afro-Cuban, jazz, salsa, funk, and pop styles joyously overlap.

"Serpentine Fire" is an Earth Wind & Fire selection from the '70s with its Afro-Latin rhythms accentuated while still maintaining its classy, suave R&B groove. The Gerry Mulligan-composed "Jeru" (from the Miles Davis' bebop-era classic Birth of the Cool) gets spruced-up via a gorgeous semi-Caribbean treatment, the yearning melody at its core intact. "That Walk" and "Oshumaré" are jazz-oriented, the former with a hint of Herbie Hancock-style funk (pre-Headhunters, that is) and lyricism, the latter with a plump, buoyant Nigerian cadence; both have tasty, creamy-smooth horn solos.

Wallace's 'bone is muscular-toned and elegant throughout. The Nature of the Beat is an invigorating treasure-trove for Latin-loving eclectics. (Patois Records)

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