FOUR STARS ****
Passion, confidence and an unshakable commitment to groove are the ingredients for great Latin jazz, and Venezuelan trumpeter Raul Agraz exhibits them in abundance on his solo debut. For this ambitious project, Agraz convened a summit of New York's best session players, with special seats reserved for a few titans of Latin jazz: vibraphonist Dave Samuels, reedist Paquito D'Rivera, pianist Luis Perdomo and percussionist Luisito Quintero.
An athletic trumpeter with a warm, supple tone, Agraz wrote four of the 10 tracks on this album, including "One Day at a Time," a masterclass in tenderness and melodic purity. The song embodies the trumpeter's sophisticated yet simple compositional style, and features brief, energetic passages that expand with self-generating momentum. The closing "Concone #6" revels in a more austere kind of splendor. Played sumptuously and without frills, its slow, determined melody reveals a musician at peace with his own sound.