(CD AJ Records)
Doing a tribute to one of Jazz music's icons (Miles Davis) with an album full of cover versions could end either in disaster or in triumph, luckily Humberto Ramírez achieved the latter with his Miles Latino album. In fact, the idea of picking seven of the songs written or made famous by Miles Davis (plus including one original composition) and giving them the Latin Jazz treatment works very well.
Humberto Ramírez was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and has graced the Latin jazz scene with his talent as a musician (trumpet and flugelhorn), composer and arranger, since his debut as trumpeter with Willie Rosario. He then went on as a producer for such well known artists as Gilberto Santa Rosa and Tony Vega. Since 1992 he has released 13 records (including Miles Latino) plus a Best Of album as leader or co-leader. And to my own surprise I also found his name in my record collection, as musical director for Willie Colón's Hecho En Puerto Rico (from 1993). So it's no surprise that Humberto was able to gather some of the best musicians to support him for this album. There's Michael Brecker (tenor sax), Edward Simon (piano), John Benítez (bass), Horacio "El Negro" Hernández (drums), Richie Flores (percussion) and of course Humberto himself on trumpet.
With a little re-harmonizing and altering of the original rhythms and tempos you get a brandnew listening experience of seven Miles Davis songs in a Latin Jazz context, so that even oft-covered tunes like My Funny Velentine, Straight No Chaser or Round Midnight sound fresh and unique.
Humberto's versions of Someday My Prince Will Come, Tutu, So What or Four add further proof to the fact what an excellent trumpeter, arranger and producer Humberto Ramírez is. With the self-written Transcendental we also get a fine example of Humberto's composing skills.
On balance Miles Latino is highly recommendable and another pleasant example showing that talented musicians still can breathe new life into Jazz standards and classics.
(For more information visit humbertoramirez.com, ajrecords.com and cdbaby.com)