By Howard Mandel | Published February 2021
Papo Vázquez’s Mighty Pirates Troubadours are stirring. The precise, greased-gear ensemble moves through smartly arranged, post-boppishly interpreted jazz with a Latin tinge, and the first six tracks here all are highlights. The swirling syncopations, tart horn hooks and earthy choruses bind in a way almost scientifically refined over decades: The ballad and blues add variety, but it’s the bomba, plena, mambo and rumba efforts that distinguish Chapter 10: Breaking Cover.
The Troubadours lay down grooves, Sherman Irby—alto saxophonist and the album’s co-producer—slips into step on three tunes, and Antonio Caraballo’s guitar adds frosting to the fusion-adjacent “Fairmount Park.” Breaking Cover has an immediacy to it, having been recorded during a brief window in pandemic restrictions. “No Te Rindas” (“Don’t Give Up”) and “Broke Blues” nod to current events; others offer complex concepts and foreboding airs, and seem to speak of troubled times. Yet, treasured tunes here transcend all of that.
Chapter 10: Breaking Cover: Mr. Babu; NY Latin Jazz Mambo; El Cuco/The Boogeyman; Saludo Campesino; Fiesta En La Sanse; Fairmount Park; Shadows; No Te Rindas; Broke Blues. (49:02)
Personnel: Papo Vázquez, trombone, vocals, percussion keyboard; Ivan Renta, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Sherman Irby, alto saxophone; Rick Germanson, piano; Ariel Robles, bass, vocals; Dezron Douglas (9), bass; Alvester Garnett, drums; Antonio Caraballo (6), guitar; Antoine Drye (9), trumpet; Carlos Maldonado, Reinaldo DeJesus, Jose Mangual Jr., percussion, vocals.