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Trypl Time
Latin Jazz

by Howard Lawes



A new album, Trypl, featuring Trevor Mires (trombone), Ryan Quigley (trumpet) and Paul Booth (saxophone) brings an impressive, enjoyable, contemporary approach to Latin Jazz for the 2020s. Howard Lawes looks back at the early story of Latin Jazz and how Trypl can lift our spirits today in a time of Coronavirus.


An introduction to the new Trypl album:




The phrase ‘Latin Jazz’ is typically used to describe a fusion of Latin American dance rhythms and jazz, Latin America being those countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean where Latin (or Romance, i.e. Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese) languages are spoken.

Some of the best known Latin American dance rhythms are tango from Argentina, samba and bossa nova from Brazil and cha cha cha, mambo, rumba and salsa from Cuba and unlike the swing triplet pattern familiar to jazz musicians, the beat in Latin music is paired and syncopated.  Rhythms that occur very frequently in much Afro-Cuban music are the son clave and rumba Machito and his Afro Cubansclave, repeating patterns of five beats in two bars, and it is rhythms such as these which make the music so distinctive and good to dance to.  Bands that play this music employ a variety of percussion instruments such as conga and bongo drums, timbales, maracas, cowbells, guiros, cabasa and claves (two hardwood sticks) to generate an irresistible, polyrhythmic groove which provides a wealth of opportunity for jazz musicians to converse, improvise or just use as a basis for melody.


Machito and his Afro Cubans


Jazz musicians incorporated elements of Latin American music into their playing from the earliest times, Jelly-Roll Morton referred to a "Spanish tinge", using syncopated rhythms to make the music more interesting, but it wasn't until the early 1940s that an orchestra comprised of musicians from Cuba and Puerto Rico was formed in New York led by Machito and his arranger brother Mario Bauza.  International relations between Cuba and the USA had long been complicated but both countries were allies during WW2 which perhaps smoothed the path for Machito and the Afro-Cuban Orchestra to successfully bring Afro-Cuban jazz to the attention of US music audiences and it wasn't long before bandleaders such as Stan Kenton and Dizzie Gillespie, inspired by percussionist and composer Chano Pozo, adopted Latin American rhythms for their own music such as Cuban Carnival (Kenton, 1947) and Manteca (Gillespie, 1947).  The late 1940s provided some of the best music from Machito and his Afro-Cuban Salseros either without guest jazz artists or with bebop icons such as Charlie Parker.


Here is Dizzy Gillespie playing Manteca with the Kenny Clarke / Francy Boland Big Band in 1970:





Tito Puente




Tito Puente, born in New York of Puerto Rican parents and having served in theUS Navy during WW2 took advantage of a government scheme called the G I Bill which provided money to enable ex-servicemen to re-establish themselves in civvy-street. 

Puente used the money to study music and after a spell with Machito he set up his own band releasing some exceptional music for dancing such as Cuban Carnival (1956) and Dance Mania (1957) and apart from laying the foundation for the salsa craze to come, he popularised styles such as mambo and cha cha cha. 


Tito Puente







His most famous composition, Oye Como Va, was adopted by Santana and memorably played at Woodstock in 1969. Here is a video of Santana playing Oye Como Va:






While Tito Puente played timbale, the Cuban Mongo Santamaria played bongos, first with Puente and then with the Cal Tjader Band, he popularised styles such as boogaloo and later salsa.  Santamaria's most famous tune was Herbie Hancock's composition Watermelon Man but Santamaria's own 1959 composition, Afro Blue, with optional lyric by Oscar Brown Jr has been covered by John Coltrane and Robert Glasper with recent vocal versions by Eryka Badhu and Esperanza Spalding. 


John Coltrane playing Afro Blue:





Cuba also produced its own song writers such as Osvaldo Farres, a prolific composer whose romantic songs have been performed by some of the most famous singers throughout the world.  One of his most famous songs is Quizás, Quizás, Quizás (Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps) while another, Tres Palabras (Three Words), helped double bassist and band leader Charlie Haden win a Grammy in 2001.


We can listen to Tres Palabras played by guitarist Kenny Burrell and featuring Coleman Hawkins (tenor sax) and Tommy Flanagan (piano):




Afro-Cuban Jazz is one of the original forms of Latin Jazz highlighting links with the rhythms of Africa, however relations between Cuba and the USA deteriorated badly following the Russian attempt to install missiles in Cuba in 1962 and anything to do with Cuba fell out of favour. The breakdown of relations between the USA and a Cuba that aligned with communism during the Cold War of the 1960s resulted in an embargo of Cuba. Musicians were unable to travel (although Osvaldo Farres and his wife managed to emigrate to the USA in 1962), and in Cuba they were encouraged to promote traditional music at the expense of jazz and rock and roll that were seen as ideologically unsuitable. However after several years of unsustainable ideology, which went so far as to consider the electric guitar and the saxophone as "imperialist instruments", the Cuban regime softened their attitude to jazz and allowed it to be played, as long as it was mixed with Cuban music. This change led to the founding of the Orquesta Cubana de Música Moderna in 1967 which performed at Expo 67 in Montreal, although apparently not all band members were allowed to travel due to fears that they would defect.

In 1973 following dissatisfaction with the limits placed on the Orquesta repertoire by the government, pianist Chucho Valdes and percussionist Oscar Valdes formed a new band called Irakere that included trumpeter Arturo Sandoval and saxophonist Paquito D'RiveraPaquito D'Rivera. Irakere created a sound that fused jazz with a variety of influences including the rhythmic Cuban tradition. In fact, as illustrated by the tune Misa Negre (Black Mass) from the 1979 album Irakere, the improvisation, arrangement and virtuosity, particularly of Chucho Valdes himself, placed the band among the best of jazz, winning awards and appearing at jazz festivals in the USA and Europe.  Almost inevitably the band soon lost some of its founding members to the USA and Chucho Valdes himself established a glittering solo career.


Paquito D'Rivera


In the USA the Dominican Republic-born Johnny Pacheo became one of the most influential figures in Latin music. Having become a successful musician and band-leader playing pachanga music (i.e. son montuno and merengue) in 1964 he became co-founder of Fania Records with American Jerry Masucci and released a series of successful albums of Latin music by different bands, particularly designed for dancing, which were branded as ‘salsa’.  In 1967 Pacheo brought together many of the most successful musicians to form the Fania All Stars playing "salsa" music, releasing their first album in 1968 and going on to release many albums for nearly thirty years using a continually changing line-up. Such music was extremely popular in clubs and dance halls alongside rock and roll. Live performances sold out at huge stadiums and in Kinshasa, DRC, they supported the the 1974 boxing match between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali. In 1976 Fania Records released an album featuring UK multi-instrumentalist Steve Winwood called Delicate & Jumpy and in the same year the Fania All-Stars played at the Lyceum in London along with Winwood. In 1979 they played at the Havana, Karl Marx Theatre as part of Havana Jam alongside jazz stars Weather Report, Jaco Pastorius and John McLaughlin as well as Irakere and other local Cuban musicians as part of an effort to ease tension between the USA and Cuba.


Here's a video of the Fania All Stars playing Dinamita





Latin Jazz has never gone away. One source of reference is the website Latino Life which covers a whole host of 'things Latin' including Latin music. Click here for an article by Alex Wilson listing his Top Ten Latin Jazz Albums.


Now Trypl is a new band that has come together to record an album of Latin Jazz. While the band might be new, the three musicians in the Tryplband have a wealth of experience between them. Trevor Mires on trombone was a member of the jazz funk bands Jamiroquai and Incognito, recording and touring with both for a number of years. Trevor is currently trombonist/arranger for Sir Tom Jones, and recently toured with Randy Brecker’s European Big Band, as well as recording with Radiohead. Ryan Quigley has appeared as a lead and guest principal trumpeter with the Grammy-winning Metropole Orkest, the Halle Orchestra, the Berlin Staatskapelle, the Royal Northern Sinfonia, the BBC Scottish Symphony and Royal Scottish National Orchestras, the RTE Concert and Symphony Orchestras, and the BBC Big Band. Ryan is a winner of a Parliamentary Jazz Award (Ryan Quigley Sextet), Scottish Jazz Award (Brass Jaw) and a UK Jazz Services Promoters Choice Award.  Paul Booth is the in-demand sax man on today’s music scene. His ability to blend into any musical surrounding coupled with his talents as a multi-instrumentalist has led to him being regularly chosen to perform with many well-known artists. Paul has toured, performed and recorded around the world with The Eagles, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Van Morrison, Jamiroquai, Gregory Porter and many more. 

All three musicians were playing in the Ryan Quigley Big Band supporting the Average White Band's Hamish Stuart which was just about the last gig at Ronnie Scott’s before the Covid-19 lockdown in London. Complementing the horn section are a number of exceptional musicians in their own right;  Alex Wilson (piano),  Dimitris Christopoulos (bass), Edwin Sanz (percussion), Tristan Banks (drums) and Davide Giovannini (drums), full details of the credits for all the musicians can be found here.




Talking to Ryan Quigley by phone he explained that having played together with Trevor and Paul several times they soon discovered a mutual love of Latin Jazz and created Trypl to provide a showcase for this particular style of groovy, danceable, romantic jazz.

Having been born in Derry, Northern Ireland Ryan moved to Glasgow to attend university and was exposed to the salsa music phenomenon.  Glasgow twinned with Havana in 2002, bringing together two great world cities famous for their music but before that Ryan Quigley was lead trumpet in the band Salsa Celtica playing its own unique blend of Latin American Salsa with Scottish and Irish flavours and who played on the 2001 album El Aqua de La Vida (The Water of Life - pseudonym for Scotch Whiskey). 2020 is the 25th anniversary of the founding of Salsa Celtica who are as popular as ever in Scotland and with salsa fans around the world, and perhaps Trypyl hope to emulate their success.

It is surely a coincidence that the album Trypl was recorded at Stevie Winwood's Wincraft Studios, Winwood having played with the Fania All-Stars in London in 1976. The first track on the album, BoJo, is dedicated to two of the technicians at the studios, who it is immediately obvious from the clarity and balance of the sound, have done a great job with the recording.


Listen to BoJo.




Nodge is a tune to wake you up in the morning, it has some great high register trumpet playing before pianist Alex Wilson cuts loose from his montuno to spar energetically with percussionist Edwin Sanz. The next track, Bailar Toda La Noche (Dance All Night), composed by Ryan Quigley is a tribute to the Fania All-Stars and their pianist in latter years Eddie Palmieri.


Listen to Bailar Toda La Noche.




The dancing theme carries through the album and is emphasized on the multi-coloured album cover by a striking silhouetted dancer reminiscent of a Matisse cutout.  The next track, El Viaje Al Sur (The Road ToThe South) starts with a simple, repeated melody that serves as an introduction to some fabulous solo percussion while Scallywag, composed by Alex Wilson, starts as a very fast and demanding piece that really demonstrates the quality of the band, slowing down for delightful trombone and flute solos before speeding up for a colossal finale. 


Listen to Scallywag.




Ryan Quigley's second composition, Pasado Olvidado (Forgotten Past) is a nostalgic piece that he says reminds him of the enjoyable time he spent playing Latin Jazz some years ago while the next track, Tres Parabras (Three Words) by Osvaldo Farres, the only piece not composed by one of the band, is a beautiful rumba with haunting solos, ideal for that last dance with someone special. The last two tracks are Sacudido No Revuelto (Shaken Not Stirred), a cocktail of Latin rhythms including samba and tango and Here We Go, a big band sound that conjures up the sense of a journey. A ‘journey’ is what the album Trypl has been about in that it has travelled around Latin America highlighting the wonderful music of the region and fusing it with some great jazz from really exceptional musicians.


Listen to Here We Go.




Latin Jazz with its high tempo, syncopation and sparkle demands a lot from musicians and every member of Trypl really delivers making it impossible for the listener to sit still. The album Trypl has been a while in the making and frustratingly, due to Covid-19 of course, the planned tour of clubs and festivals to launch the album has had to be postponed. It is everyone's fervent hope that bands will be able to perform live gigs before too long and a Trypl gig playing Latin Jazz is going to be a real party, why not use the time to learn some Latin American dance steps for maximum enjoyment?


Click here for more about the band Trypl. The album was released on 14th August - click here for details and samples.

Trypl album


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