Scott Martin – Café Cubano

Scott Martin
Café Cubano
(SCM Records – 2004)
by D. Kevin McNeir
If you are an aficionado of Latin jazz, you’re in for a real treat with Scott Martin’s solo venture, Café Cubano. Backed up by The Scott Martin Latin Jazz Band and with special guest Poncho Sanchez, this CD is hot.

Martin is an 11-year veteran of the Poncho Sanchez Band, one of the most successful ensembles in Latin jazz history and with the stylistic congas, bell, bongo clave and guiro playing of his mentor, Sanchez, it seems to be a match made in heaven.

Too many accolades you ask? Well, just check out Martin’s version of the Willie Bobo classic “Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries.” Martin heats things up with his alto, tenor, baritone and soprano sax playing, not to mention his percussive vocals and a little piano and flute, played in the Cuban charanga style.

Martin’s original compositions are a testament to some of his favorite places and things—”Café Cubano,” “Escuela de Peska” and “San Juan.” True jazz lovers may hear echoes of Herbie Hancock on “Escuela de Peska from Hancock’s “The Headhunters” years. And then there’s the sensual guitar message on “Con Seis” that Martin says was inspired by the great Wes Montgomery.

It’s a first time out for Martin as a band leader and he has assembled a phenomenal cast, from brothers Andy on trombone and Stan on trumpet and flugel horn to Rene Camacho on bass, George Ortiz on timbales, Joey Deleon on congas, Rich White on guitar, piano, strings and vocals and of course, Sanchez.

If you can’t get to Puerto Rico, Café Cubano might be the next best thing.