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World Music CD Reviews Greater Latin America

Mike Ellis

By Ernest Barteldes
Published April 16, 2008

Bahia Band
Alpha Pocket

Bahia is where many musical traditions were created, and it’s also where legendary musicians like João Gilberto, Caetano Veloso and Carlinhos Brown were born. In the streets of capital city Salvador, music is everywhere. It was this atmosphere that inspired saxophonist Mike Ellis to create the music on this disc, which opens with an 11-minute rendition of Milt Jackson’s “Bag’s Groove”—a prime vehicle for the vocal improvisations of Guyanese singer Ricky Husbands, who is duly followed by trumpeter Gileno Santana, his spare but expertly chosen figures lending a fine wash of color to the percussive background. “Solista Que Base” features Santana and pandeiro master Anderson Souza, who create a groove that rides on a snippet of Jobim’s "Chovendo Na Roseira” before quickly moving into an improvised piece that showcases the chops of both musicians. This disc might require repeated listening sessions to sink in, but it’s an astounding musical journey that brings several cultures together to create something monumental yet unpretentious.