It’s a rare occurrence when I put on a record and I’m instantly hooked. An album usually has to grow on me but from the first note I knew this was special. Papo Vázquez fuses jazz and Puerto Rican folkloric music in a way only he can. Out this Friday, November 13th, Vázquez releases his newest album, Chapter 10: Breaking Cover with his Mighty Pirates Troubadours. An iconic career that spans 40 years, GRAMMY-nominated Latin music artist Papo Vázquez, proves on this album why he is one of the leading artist of the contemporary Latin jazz scene. His love of jazz ignited by John Coltrane and J. J. Johnson, added to his knowledge of indigenous music of the Caribbean peoples, gives us a rhythm and tempo that is sure to make you listen again and again.
The album right from the start gives me hints of Jackie McLean and Chick Corea in the compositions and arrangements. It takes us on a journey through the celebration of life, our oneness in it, and when it’s all over the party we will have. We open with an introduction to "Mr. Babu." He’s from Africa and likes to dance. The dance he likes most is the second song off the album, "NY Latin Jazz Mambo." Then enters the Boogeyman and perhaps my favorite track off the album.“El Cuco/The Boogeyman.” Ben Ratliff says in his liner notes: “El Cuco/The Boogeyman is built on a piano riff Papo wrote a few years ago; he realized that it could stand for the knock on our psychic doors we all started hearing in March.”
Other notable and stand out songs are the rumba “No Te Rindas” (“don’t give up”) which features vocalist Jose Mangual Jr., who worked with Papo in Hector Lavoe’s band back in the ‘70s. "Fiesta En La Sanse,” named after the carnival in Old San Juan, evokes a feeling of celebrating and party when everything is over. The last track “Broke Blues,” is probably the best track on the album. This is composition at its finest and the perfect way to end the album. It is a not to be missed track.
Chapter 10: Breaking Cover is an album made truly in the time of COVID 19. Vázquez had plans to record this past April when lockdown regulations came into effect. Finally in June, when gatherings of 25 people or less were approved in the tri-state area, Vázquez and his Mighty Pirate Troubadours were able to rehearse and eventually record, all while safely social distancing. The current iteration of the septet includes Vázquez at the helm, with saxophonist Ivan Renta, pianist Rick Germanson, bassist Ariel Robles, drummer Alvester Garnett and percussionists Carlos Maldonado and Reinaldo DeJesus. Augmenting the group are invited guests: vocalist and percussionist Jose Mangual Jr., saxophonist Sherman Irby, bassist Dezron Douglas, guitarist Antonio Caraballo and trumpeter Antoine Drye.
If your look for something new this Friday, Listen to this!