Vazquez is now working with a quartet that consists of two longtime friends and collaborators, saxophonist Joel Frahm and electric bassist Anthony Jackson, as well as relative newcomer Manuel Valera. Frahm is one of the finest younger tenor saxophonists in the country, able to fit into a wide variety of contexts without losing his musical identity. Jackson plays a six-string electric bass that he calls a "contrabass guitar," and his distinctive sound and phrasing can be heard on many recordings by musicians as varied as Buddy Rich, Paul Simon, Michel Petrucciani, and Chaka Khan. The Cuban-born Valera is, like Vasquez, interested in the intersection of jazz and Latin music, and in composition as well as improvisation. His two previous Ann Arbor performances were simply magnificent, and his return, this time as a sideman, is much anticipated.
The Roland Vazquez Quartet plays at Kerrytown Concert House on Sunday, March 25.
[Review published March 2007]