Broad Street
Tony Marino

by Jason Hoffman Broad Street

With his last release, Samba De Say Party, still in regular rotation on WBNI, Tony Marino has released Broad Street, his fourth album of invigorating original Brazillian jazz compositions, this time paying tribute to his Philadelphia roots. As in past albums the songs exhibit a strong sense of songwriting prowess with broad enough appeal to tickle the ear of more than just die-hard jazz aficionados.

The press sheet proudly proclaims, “Tony uses only the finest, most accomplished musicians from the area”, going on to list many well-known and talented local musicians. It’s a shame Tony didn’t lure some of these primo musicians into the studio with him after a gig because, unfortunately, every sound on this album is made by a keyboard, apparently using the GM sound bank to complete the standard jazz trio. The drums are often distracting and the bass is so flat and lifeless that it adds little, even on the title track where it is given a mini bass-solo. The piano is likewise thin and heavy on treble, giving it a keyboardy sound instead of a robust sample. As good as these compositions are they deserve to have a flesh-and-blood rhythm section round them out with their collective bags of tricks. Okay … enough griping about the MIDI.

The songs incorporate many styles, including samba, bossa nova, frevo, tango, montuno, bolero, be bop, swing and calypso, but since this white cracker couldn’t tell a “montuno” from a “frevo” even if it was grafted onto my left hip, I’m somewhat rowing in foreign waters. But I can tell when a song works and many of these compositions squarely hit their marks.

“We’re Home,” for instance, is a lively jaunt sporting a Latin rhythm and an extended piano solo. “South Philly Samba” is a rollicking bit of fantastic fun evoking images of women being spun around in frilly south-o’-the-border dresses. In “Enough” hyperactive piano playing is wedged between calmer lyrical sections while the closing title track brims with a happy melody encased in an adventurous structure destined to make you smile.

Paquito D’Rivera’s “Song For My Son” is one of two covers, the other being “The Monster And The Flower” by Claudio Roditi, where a sincere piano quietly regales the listener with a melody of stunning beauty while convincing drums lay down a light rhythm.

“Cigars In The Garage” effectively depicts a sleepy day among friends and the original “I Want To Spend My Life With You,” dedicated to his wife Kristina, is appropriately melodic, enchanting, and romantic.

With nine tracks clocking in at just over 30 minutes, Marino leaves you yearning for more … so hit the repeat button already and sit back to enjoy these intoxicating melodies lovingly wrapped in tight compositions. www.latinjazzsounds.com.

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