Los Jazz Vatos
El Jefe (Lounge Side)
Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., Jan. 29, 2016
Long-awaited hardly covers the 13 years between El Jefe and its sole predecessor. Remarkably, the personnel of Texas Tornados drummer Ernie Durawa's formidable sextet has stayed intact. Bassist Brad Taylor and keyboardist Terry Bowness round out the rhythm section, laying the foundation for a strutting, three-horn front line in Jimmy Shortell on trumpet, Freddie Mendoza on trombone, and Steve Vague manning sax. The band remains tight, fluid, daunting, slashing its way with precision through Mendoza originals "6th Street Messin Round," "Melissa," the title track, and closer "Jay Jay's Blues." Mendoza also arranged most of the disc, including a hip reading of Herbie Hancock's "Isla de Cantaloupo." A refreshing outlier is Los Vatos' rootsy take on singer-songwriter Rich Minus' dreamy border ballad, "Laredo Rose," with Shortell on accordion. The wait was worth it.