2009 starts off with a bang with guitarist Greg Diamond's debut "Dancando Com Ale." This highly satisfying release features Diamond leading a stellar team of NYC area Latin stars through a well-arranged group or originals and Latin covers (Hermeto Pascoal's "Rebulico" Astor Piazolla's "Libertango," Mongo Santamaria's "Sofrito," and Xavier Montsalvatge's "Ninghe, Ninghe"), as well as the standard, "All or Nothing."
Up and coming saxophonist, Seamus Blake provides most of the melodic counterpoint to Diamond's tasteful guitar work, while Brian Hogans adds reeds on three tracks. The rhythm section features drummer Ferenc Nemeth, bassist Edward Perez and percussionist Arturo Stable - all familiar names to NYC area Latin afficianados. Exceptional pianist Emilio Solla also appears on two tracks and Diamond's sister, Vanessa adds her classically-trained vocals to the sultry Montsalvatge track.
Diamond's sparkling "Paradigma" opens things up with a West African flavor, and throughout, Diamond shows his mastery of various styles within a Afro-Latin/Brazilian/Cuban context. Diamond also, refreshingly, plays within himself and the framework of the music, playing interesting, intricate and assured lines without disrupting the music itself, and the compositions are truly the star of the recording.
In that regard, Diamond's own compositions are strong and serve notice that he is a writer to take note of. The mysterious "Naufrage," beautiful "Delicate Contents," high energy "Primavera" and memorable title track combine with the excellent cover choices in making this a recording that you will enjoy listening to repeatedly.
This is a release that will please both Latin music and guitar fans immensely.