Carlos Vega's Art of the Messenger might very well end up being a contender for one of my favorite albums of the year. And when you dissect the pieces, it's easy to understand why. First, start off with a who's who of young(ish) Jazz players in Chicago - Vega plays tenor sax and writes the songs. Victor Garcia is the trumpet player, Stu Mindeman is on piano, Josh Ramos is on bass and Xavier Breaker is playing the drums. Second, write some compelling songs that bring out the best in this hard-hitting crew. Vega succeeds here with a mix of songs that run the gamut from Blakey inspired gems like "Who Cooks for You" to more modern fare like "Don't Forget to Ask." My personal favorite is "Bird's Word." It's got just a hint of a "latin tinge" propelled by a montuno-esque piano groove, a fat groove from Ramos and Breaker and some awesome soloing from Vega and Garcia. Third, get all of that into one room, hit the record button and let the sparks fly. Sparks do indeed fly throughout Art of the Messenger, and I am excited to share this one with you on DCB Jazz!