Papo Vázquez The Mighty Pirates Troubadours

Chapter 10: Breaking Cover

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.