Words by Mark Sampson
Proof that the Section rules Europe’s Afro-Cuban roost
Any momentary disquiet on hearing guest vocalist Marc Evans’ lounge-lizard take on the title-track was quickly dispelled by what follows. DJ and conguero Mark ‘Snowboy’ Cotgrove’s refined taste defines his 16th album and even this initial revival of the old jazz-dance classic grows more endearing with each listen.
It’s easy to see why his Latin Section is billed as Europe’s leading Afro-Cuban jazz group. This is authentic top-notch stuff: nine tracks divided nicely into three with Latin vocals (sung with real distinction by drummer and timbalero, Davide Giovannini); three with English vocals (including two by Bostonian singer-songwriter Jen Kearney, that sound remarkably like songs in the key of Stevie Wonder); and three instrumentals.
The band really stretches out on a stonking version of Edmundo Ros’ evergreen ‘Olé Mambo’ and an extended jam on the finale, ‘The Triple Bluff’, redolent of Eddie Palmieri’s great Nuyorican outfits of the 1960s and 70s. Indeed, with prominent organ, electric piano and big beefy baritone sax, there’s a lovely retro New York feel throughout. Above all, this outfit cooks like a band of Masterchef professionals. Snowboy’s first release on his own eponymous label serves up a very spicy salsa.