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  • Jonathan Widran

ISRAEL TANENBAUM & THE LATINBAUM JAZZ ENSEMBLE, Impressions

Even if you’re a massive Latin jazz enthusiast, the name Israel Tenenbaum might be fresh to you for a very good reason. The versatile pianist, arranger and producer has dedicated his fascinating career to being a behind the scenes force, producing 50+ albums for other artists in the U.S., Puerto Rico (where the Bronx born musician grew up) and Colombia, where he spent ten prolific years working his eclectic magic for Orquesta Guayacan, Checo Acosta and Alfredo De La Fe, among others. His resume is also dotted with commercial jingles and music for films, theatre, TV and video games.

Tanenbaum’s vast and expansive history explains his high octane, deeply inspiring and all-around engaging “kitchen sink” concept on his long awaited emergence as a solo artist on Impressions, the debut album by Israel Tanenbaum & The Latinbaum Jazz Ensemble - a group of 31 (!) blue chip musicians (including nine horn players, 14 percussionists and three vocalists) from Cuba, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and NYC.


From the moody, soulful seduction of “Strange Destiny” – a guaracha dedicated to Tanenbaum’s late father – through the plucky, festive, densely percussive danzon “Vaya,” the pianist rolls through exciting swatches of his dynamic professional history, spiritedly leading his group playing salsa (the Eddie Palmieri and Tito Puente influenced “Hot Bridge”), cha cha (“Prime Flight”), descarga (“Mambo Raro”), mambo (“Cuando de Asomas”).


Amidst all the jamming are three tunes that seem closest to Tanenbaum’s heart and reflect the true emotional core of the diverse session. “Steamy Patricia” is a low key, sweetly swaying tribute to his wife featuring one of his most sensitive piano solos. The fully improvisational piano solo “Another Life” not only provides a reflective oasis amidst the divine ensemble madness, but also harkens back to his early days on the instrument, when he was inspired by Keith Jarrett’s mastery at making songs up on the spot. A whimsical, salsified version of Chopin’s “Prelude in E Minor Op. 28 No. 4” is his clever way of fusing his early classical piano lessons with the romantic, high energy Latin music that would come to define his incredible career.

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