Ray Mantilla & The New Space Station


Savant SCD 2059

Ray Mantilla, percussion/leader; Willie Williams, soprano & tenor sax; Enrigue Fernández, baritone saxophone & flute; Guido González, trumpet; Edy Martinez, piano; Cucho Martinez, bass; Bill Elder, drums

Latin Jazz legend Ray Mantilla titled this CD with the correct pronunciation of his own name Man-Ti-Ya. However, after 50 years in the spot light of the Latin Jazz scene - in a career that started off playing with Eddie Palmieri and Ray Barretto - the number of serious Jazz fans who cannot pronounce his name by now should be few and far between. On the other hand, Mantilla composed six of the ten tracks on this production and thus signing his name to the CD his name is a perfectly appropriate idea.

On "TBA," composed and performed by Mantilla and Bill Elder (and dedicated to Max Roach and Art Blakey,) the two musicians enjoy themselves in an excellent drums - percussion duel. A very interesting composition - and definitely not your typical latin Jazz piece. On "Hop Scotch" the seven piece band sounds like a much larger ensemble. I especially like Cucho Martinez' piano playing and Bill Elder's drum solo on this track. On "The Man I Love," a George & Ira Gershwin piece, Enrigue Fernández showcases his talent on flute in interaction with Willie Williams on tenor saxophone. "African Holiday" will engage your ears and transport you out of the here and now to a place in the sun. I just love this happy feeling of Latin clave. "Eight Ball" contains wonderful baritone saxophone lines by Enrigue Fernández. "Mantillon" is another composition that will move your feet and ignite your senses if you just lend it your full ear.

This album is an ideal introduction for those new to Latin jazz because of its broad range of temperaments: from mellow to hot and slow to full force. Great musicianship on all accounts! In the liner notes, Ray Mantilla says of Man-Ti-Ya that it "is music for the head and the feet." He is right. Your ears are destined to discover something new each time you listen to the tunes and your feet will move, guaranteed, each time.

by Kate Kaiser