Album Review of
Chapter 10: Breaking Cover

Written by Joe Ross
January 4, 2021 - 7:41pm EST
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Papo Vázquez’s tenth album is a serendipitous and celebratory affair of Latin jazz that came together during the 2020 pandemic. Seasoned musicians are adaptable, the Mighty Pirates Troubadours knew how to react quickly under pressure when a window opened that allowed them to gather and record. The band’s name was inspired by Vázquez’s father, grandfather and uncle who regularly filled his living room with traditional mountain folk music of Puerto Rico.

While now based in Philadelphia, the trombonist, composer and arranger’s Puerto Rican roots are heard distinctively in pieces like the lively “Mr. Babu,” “Saludo Campesino,” “Fiesta en la Sanse” and “Fairmount Park.” It was in the early 80s, when Vázquez was with Puerto Rico’s popular Latin fusion band Batacumbele, that he started experimenting with “bomba jazz” (a fusion of jazz and traditional Puerto Rican bomba rhythms). Rick Germanson’s driving piano riff establishes the cornerstone foundation for “El Cuco/The Boogeyman,” while guest guitarist Antonio Caraballo renders the tasty licks in “Fairmount Park.” Vocals are heard on three tracks, and Vázquez’s trombone really spices up the musical conversation in the beautiful ballad, “Shadows.” Afro-Cuban influences flavor selections like “NY Latin Jazz Mamo” and “No Te Rindas.” This splendid album features exciting musicianship, charged-up numbers and contagious energy. It also conveys unbridled optimism, hope and perseverance. The pandemic’s put a damper on the music scene, but albums like this remind us that creativity thrives when we improvise, adapt and overcome. Cue up this red hot album and dance with the pirates troubadours. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)