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Solos propel Caribbean Jazz Project

March 27, 2004|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

The Caribbean Jazz Project was formed a decade ago as an all-star jazz ensemble with an unusual sound and a southward view. Dave Samuels' vibes and marimba combined with Andy Narell's steel drums to create a piquant aural timbre, saxophonist-clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera added an imaginative improvisational element, and bubbling Latin rhythms brought everything together into an appealing musical mix.

Earlier this year the CJP's "The Gathering" won a Grammy in the Latin jazz category, but with a lineup that was missing Narell, included flutist Dave Valentin and featured D'Rivera as a guest artist. In essence, the group had become Samuels' baby -- a fact that was also apparent in the CJP's performance Thursday at the Jazz Bakery.

In this latest installment, Samuels was front and center, and the instrumental timbre was based on the combination of vibes (or marimba) with the trumpet of Diego Urcola. Since this is a sound blend with limited potential, a good portion of the set was devoted to extended soloing by all the participants.

Samuels' workmanlike efforts were delivered with a brisk rhythmic lift; pianist Luis Perdomo's two-handed chording was even more propulsive; and Urcola's high-flying lines added brassy contrast. But it was the rhythm section that stole the evening -- especially via a remarkable maracas solo by conguero Robert Quintero, the surging drumming of Vince Cherico and the solid bass work of Oscar Stagnaro.


Caribbean Jazz Project

Where: The Jazz Bakery, 3233 Helms Ave., Culver City

When: Today and Sunday,

8 and 9:30 p.m.

Price: $25

Contact: (310) 271-9039

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