Mario Castro Quintet – Estrella De Mar

Take two musical ensembles, a jazz band and an orchestral, give them some original songs and eclectic arrangements, and you might get something like Estrella De Mar (Interrobang Records, 2014) by the Mario Castro Quintet, accompanied by a string ensemble.

The quintet is comprised of Mario Castro, tenor sax; Josh Shpak, trumpet and flugelhorn; Tamir Shmerling, upright bass; Kyumin Shim, piano; and Jonathan Pinson, drums. A few special guests appear here and there, an eight-piece string section accompanies, and two percussionists contribute.

This is nice. That’s the first thought that comes to mind when playing “Pilares.” You’ve got easygoing jazz, augmented by a string section that gives it a chamber ensemble feel. The music can be effective simply for listening pleasure, or it could underscore the opening scene or credits of a feature film. Castro just lays it down and plays to his heart’s content, complemented by the different elements of the band, whether it’s the strings, the horns or the rhythm section. Special guest David Sanchez joins on tenor sax.

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