Ronnie Cuber: Con Pasión
Ronnie Cuber (baritone sax)
In a New York Minute (Steeplechase 31372)
Ronnie Cuber (baritone sax),
Kenny Drew, Jr. (piano), Andy McKee (bass), Adam Cruz (drums).
Composed by Ronnie Cuber.
Recorded: Denmark, April 1995
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
For many years, Ronnie Cuber has been one of the most in-demand sidemen and studio musicians on his instrument. Yet, as he turns 67 in December 2008, he is unlikely to be one of the first baritone saxophonists that most jazz fans would name. Eddie Palmieri, Maynard Ferguson, B.B. King, Paul Simon, Woody Herman, George Benson, Frank Zappa, J. Geils, Lee Konitz, Eric Clapton, the Mingus Big Band, Lonnie Smith – the list of his past associations is endless and impressive. However, Cuber has often seemed most at home playing Latin jazz in his searing and nimble hard-bop style.
"Con Pasión" bristles with emotion, recalling Gato Barbieri at his best. After Cuber's romantic, yearning intro, he warmly sways through the lilting theme, embellishing it with intense extended lines and dancing Latin-rhythmic figures. His upper-register excursions, always one of his strengths on the big horn, are as usual deftly executed. Drew, Jr., a more flamboyant pianist than his father, creates dense, rippling, technically brilliant arpeggios during his gripping solo, which elicit a shout-out from at least one appreciative bandmate. Cuber's reprise fluctuates between his brawny and tender sides, concluding an extremely moving ballad performance with a flourish.
Reviewer: Scott Albin