In my Emilio Solla review a few days ago I suggested that I was wrapping up 2019, the de facto Year of the Tango, with yet another Latin jazz release. I don’t know if that implies that’s I’m done with Latin/Brazilian/Tango music for a little while, but I made a concerted effort to review two tango releases that were in some way exceptional and stood out from the very dense crowd before I wrapped up this year. While Emilio Solla scored points for being a master and doing it just about better than anyone else, Frank Colon and his new album Latin Lounge qualifies as a success because it’s so different from the others.
Frank Colon’s new album is different in the following ways: it’s more lush and romantic than most other releases, but in a very modern way. This is a mix of the traditional with 21st-century approaches. Sure you get plenty of brass instruments, percussion, accordions, guitars and flutes, all in the Brazilian traditions, but there are also samples, synthesizers and other types of electric keyboards which often imitate a full string orchestra. On the surface, Latin Lounge may sound a little New Age-ish, maybe even a little “lite,” but as a whole it’s compelling because these original tracks are incredibly accessible–and not in an overly-commercial manner. It’s world music that makes you want to explore more world music.
Latin Lounge is music to float by, with a smooth groove that’s incredibly seductive. Just when you think Frank Colon is straying too far from the traditions of Brazilian jazz, he enlists the help of legends such as trumpeter Jose Arimateia, flautist Carlos Malta, guitarist Jami Glaser and drummer Julio Falavigna to give these tracks some oomph. Best of all, the sound quality is magnificent, with plenty of emphasis on the strength of the beats.
Frank Colon’s Latin Lounge was an ideal reference track to dial in my new office system. I’m currently breaking in the Martin Logan 35XTi 2-way monitors with the Dynamo 800 subwoofer–this is the first time I’ve played with a sub in many years and it’s quite good. The deep, sexy beats of Latin Lounge were explored in-depth with this set-up, and I cranked it up more than once. The sound was never strained or overpowering–it was purely visceral and exciting. I may be taking a short break from Latin jazz, but I’m definitely going out in style–tons of it.