Michael Spiro/Wayne Wallace La Orquestra Sinfonietta – Canto America

It’s the Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet, only it’s not. Wallace and band mate Michael Spiro collaborate for the Michael Spiro/Wayne Wallace La Orquestra Sinfonietta Canto America (Patois Records, 2016). It combines the quintet with a full string section and an assortment of other players.

Wallace plays trombone and euphonium. Spiro plays percussion and does arrangements for all but the first and last songs, which are arranged by Wallace. For most tracks, they are aided by their usual partners: Colin Douglas, drums, percussion; David Belove, electric bass; Murray Low, piano. Other players are numerous and varied, depending on the song. Among some of the more prominent guests are Mike Mixtacki, vocals on four tracks and lead on “Hispaniola”; Joe Galvin and Kirstin Olson, vocals and percussion on several tracks; Brennan Johns, trombone, bass trombone, mellophone and French horn on several tracks, and the primary string ensemble who perform on all but two songs: Daniel Stein, principal and violin; Charlene Kleugel, Maria Jose Romero and Nidhal Jebali, violin; Yoni Gertner and Tze-Ying Wu, viola; and Ethan Young and Brady Anderson, cello. A string quartet featuring Stein, Wu, Young and violinist Min Ju Kim join for two songs. And a 15-piece horn section joins for “Afro Blue.”

The strings and Belove open the dynamic “La Propaganda De Hoy.” The song shifts to a drum and percussion virtuoso, with Douglas and Spiro flexing their muscles throughout. A flute and more brass add some nice touches. The full ensemble mostly carries the melody, with Douglas and Spiro enjoying much of the spotlight with fills, brief solos and exceptional accompaniment. Edgardo Cambon and Fito Reinoso sing Spanish lyrics, setting up Wallace’s throaty solo before the song’s end.

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