Charlie has immersed himself in that wonderful Venn diagram where New Orleans jazz meets the music of the Caribbean, as astute listeners could hear above. This brings listeners to places they’ve never been but where the music is — although the songs are new — deeply heartfelt and satisfying.
A broad dance music repertoire from Trinidad, Guadeloupe, New Orleans, and Venezuela provides the listener an appreciation of what the Caribbean aesthetic sounded and appeared prefer to overseas tourism execs. Calypso, beguine, and joropo are performed energetically and properly. The songs of Trinidadians Lionel Belasco and Pat Castagne are given new life as the concept of cruising “all the way down to the Spanish important” turns into not a lot a bygone dream, however a method of restoring majesty to native music.
Though using the word “rip” to describe a trombone solo—rooted in the early part of the 20th century—might easily be considered anachronistic, Halloran does indeed rip on every song.
This fine album is well worth seeking out. Also, look for Charlie Halloran and the Tropicales on a stage around town. They are even more fun live.
Joining Polcer on the front line are the trombonist-who’s-everywhere, Charlie Halloran; the divinely inspired reedman James Evans; and the always dependable and witty clary/saxophonist Tom Fischer. The back line is equally compelling with the take-no-prisoners attack of stride-master David Boeddinghaus, guitar-chomping John Rodli and bass-slapping hellion Twerk Thomson. These guys pull off the tricky feat of driving the music home without speeding up; to my ears they actually improve on the original versions of some of these tunes, by slowing down, for instance, “Jamaica Shout,” and beefing up the Latin rhythm on “Rhumba Negro.” It’s like a drummer-less version of the Eddie Condon bands, but with more New Orleans flavor. A-plus.
A trombone player chameleonic enough to play with a host of pop, indie and R&B heavyweights — he has sat in with both Calexico and the legendary Allen Toussaint at past Jazz Fests — and tutored enough in the city's jazz history to be a first-call session player with some of the city's longest-running brass bands.