Friday, June 24, 2011

Carmello Garcia, Trane (R.A.H.M.P.)

Carmelo Garcia, often cited for his ‘60s work with Mongo Santamaria, played the loud, compact Latin drums known as timbales, and enjoyed a long career as a freelance session percussionist. His name deserves mention amongst the greats of West Coast Latin percussion, but 1971’s “Trane” seems to have been his only release as a bandleader.

This is Garcia’s tribute to John Coltrane (before the Coltrane tribute became an annoying cliché).  Much of the credit on “Trane” must be given to the excellent Latin jazz pianist Mark Levine, who composed and arranged it. That’s Levine’s piano we hear, and, of course, Garcia on percussion, and they’re joined here by Luis Gasca on trumpet and Pete Christlieb on saxophone. (Thanks to Mark Levine himself for that information!)

Producers Don Christlieb (brother of Pete) and Julian Spear, renowned bassoonist and bass clarinetist respectively (and themselves seasoned studio musicians), do not play on this, however.

This was the first release on what seems to have been Don Christlieb’s pet label project, and boy do I love the R.A.H.M.P. astrological insignia. There are other R.A.H.M.P. releases, actually, including 1972’s Jazz City LP by Christlieb’s son Pete, and, more recently, bassoon recordings by Frederick Moritz, and Don Christlieb himself.

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