By: Edward Blanco

Asi Se Goza! Is the latest Latin Jazz project from Venezuelan-born saxophonist and band leader Robert Incelli presenting a host of swinging tunes and dicey interpretations of music from such jazz greats as Horace Silver, Dizzy Gillespie, and Chuck Mangione. A native of Los Angeles, Incelli is a veteran of the genre playing with Joe Rizo’s Latin Jazz band and touring with friend, idol and fellow countrymen, internationally recognized salsa bassist Oscar D’ Leon—who provides arrangements and penned two tracks for this album.

Although performing with an eight-piece light ensemble, Incelli lights the fire with his assertive play on both tenor and alto saxophones while the group sounds more like a large big band than the limited group it actually is. The band expands by two on the finale piece “Cara De Payaso,” adding Tito Carrion on congas and Juan “Jason” Garcia on the piano. Master tenor saxophonist Justo Almario appears as special guest joining Incelli on a tasteful sax chase on the Latin rendition of Gillespie’s “And Then She Stopped.”

Multi-talented pianist /co-producer and fellow Venezuelan Allan Phillips, is a key figure here as he provides arrangements, contributes the title piece as well as a couple of other charts and performs on the piano, percussion and coros. The music starts moving and shaking right from the opening title piece, complete with vocal accompaniment, sizzling percussions from Joey D’Leon, Marc Campos and Joseph Assef, blazing trumpet phrasings from Ron Blake and more. Silver’s “The Cape Verdean Blues” gets a heavy percussive overhaul and more mean horn sounds from Blake making for one terrific Latin burner.
The Phillips original, “Nueva Caracas” carries one of the catchiest melodies and rhythms on the album as well as providing the leader with sprite solo moments. Incelli’s own “Ranfi” provides more of the same only pleasurably slower with the saxophonist leading the music with more delicious soloing. Horace Silver’s classic “Pretty Eyes” is one of the less obvious Latin arrangements on the set coming across as more of a straight jazz number with a touch of the Afro-Cuban rhythms to make it interesting.

The salsa is alive and well on the two D’Leon numbers, “Superacion Mambo” and “Incelli Pa’ Rumba” dedicated to the leader. Chuck Mangione’s familiar “Feel So Good” gets a nice Latin-tinged treatment with some beautiful piano lines from Phillips in perhaps the defining piece of the session. Asi Se Gosa! (That’s the way to have fun), captures the essence of Latin Jazz with swing swagger and salsa guaranteed to move more than your hips. Robert Incelli crafts an impressive album sure to garnish well-deserved attention for one of the finest Latin jazz recordings around, well done!
Year: 2011 Label: RIC Records Artist Web: