****RINGER OF THE WEEK****Mario Castro Quintet/Strings: Estrella De Mar

Here’s an exciting and panoramic collection of fresh and invigorating material by a guy I’ve never even knew existed. Tenor saxist and composer Mario Castro puts together an ambitious project that mixes a jazz team of Josh Shpak/tp, Tamir Shmerling/b, Kyumin Shim/p and Jonathan Pinson/dr with a string section along with cameo appearances of various artists. The result is a velvety kaleidoscope of wondrous sounds and rhythms weaving in and out like a Raphael tapestry into an organic warm unit.

Romantic and dramatic material such as “Pilares” mix David Sanchez’s guest tenor with the embracing strings, while jagged and hairpin turns occur on “Shmerls” along with Casey Benjamin’s vocoder. The impressionistic “Entrapment” melds moody harmonies with Dave Liebman’s soprano , and the vocal combo of J. Hoard and Jaime Woods coalesce with Shmerling for some wondrous moments. Pizzicato pickings from all things string make for an enticing blues on “Storyteller” while the leader closes the album with his own glorious tenor. This is a meal to savor!

Interrobang records


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