Eleven by Nathan Tanouye and The Las Vegas Jazz Connection… Las Vegas is one of my favorite places to go for entertainment. There is a definite sensory overload of lights, sounds, sights and a kind of ‘controlled pandemonium.’
Under the sometimes gaudy, sparkly, outer shell of Vegas there is a veritable army of entertainers that support the experiences that we tourists enjoy and often take for granted. Such are the many talented musicians that give us the soundtrack to our holiday fun as well as those that live and study in the Las Vegas area.
You might recall our once in a lifetime experience covering the Cirque du Soleil show “KA” at the MGM Grand Las Vegas and our interview with bassist and super nice guy, Derek Jones.
Anyway, as busy as Derek is with “KA”, he still finds time to get out and play some sweet Jazz with Nathan Tanouye and The Las Vegas Jazz Connection and he sent us their latest CD “Eleven”! This would be their third release.
The Las Vegas Jazz Connection is a collaboration of over thirty-eight excellent musicians, (too many to list in detail here). My understanding is that they usually play as a twenty-eight-piece band for live performances.
Nathan leads the pack as the director/arranger/composer and trombonist.
Let’s have a closer look at some of the tracks…
“Visiones De Cuba” is the first track and comes out with a seriously tight Latin groove, and this is some highly refined Latin jazz. The arrangement is meticulous and precise, with room for liberal improvised solos (sax, flute, congas, timbales and trumpet) and makes you want to stand up and dance. The syncopated bass lays down a solid foundation of “Tumbao,” yet matches every change that comes along. This track is a great opening act!
“Para Ti” which in Spanish means, “For You” is a sultry romantic piece that would make the perfect backdrop for that dance with the love of your life under the stars on a tropical balmy night. This Guajiro/Bolero blend is smooth yet upbeat with some really nice soloing from Nathan on the trombone. The use of strings and percussive elements give this piece some nice adornment in this intricate, superb arrangement.
“Rhapsody in Blue” starts out exactly the way Gershwin intended then morphs into a jazzed up, Latinized version of itself. The way this piece is arranged and performed is nothing less than perfect in my opinion; the musicians power their way through this tune when needed yet give it depth and dimension by changing up the tempo and embracing a contrasting softness.
“Nickolas’ Green Monster” is a strutting big band piece. Powerful horns wailing over a funky/walking bass line set the tone for some great sax and piano solos. There is a moving progression to this tune that makes you listen and follow along to see where it is going. This is another arrangement that just blows you away!
OK, I think you get the idea… this CD is a collection of flawless music performed at the highest possible level of skill and quality. I can easily state that I wish I had the opportunity to play with these folks… They all really knock it out of the park!
Let me first thank Derek Jones for bringing this CD to our attention and his solid bass work throughout.
Secondly, I would venture that Nathan Tanouye is a major force of nature! I don’t know where this guy from Wisconsin, that studied music in Hawaii, got such a precise grasp of Latin music, but he is the real deal. His attention to detail, unparalleled talent and leadership make this CD a must hear.
Lastly, all the collaborating musicians that worked on this project did a superb job. I am sure it was as much fun to do, as well as musically rewarding to record. I envy you all!