'Why Deny' was nominated as a finalist for a 2008 Jazz Journalists Association Award in the category of 'Latin Jazz Album of the Year.' To lovers of Latin music (and particularly those who collect records of these genres), Marty Sheller's name is certainly a familiar one. As a trumpet player he's best remembered for his work with Mongo Santamaria's 1960's group, where his solos were acclaimed both for their fiery quality and clarity of organization. From 1963 through 1968 he served as Mongo's musical director. The embouchure problems that caused his trumpet career to wind down in the late 60's had no effect on this relationship. As an arranger, producer, conductor and friend, Marty's presence was a given in every project for the rest of Santamaria's life. The Fania boom of the late 60's coincided with the emergence of Marty Sheller as a full time arranger/composer; along with Luis Cruz Junior and Louie Ramirez he can be considered one of the architects of the Fania sound of the 1970's. Major artists who have recorded his arrangements and original compositions include Willie Colon, Ruben Blades, Tito Puente, Larry Harlow, Manny Oquendo's Libre, Woody Shaw, T.S. Monk, George Benson, Shirley Scott, Giovanni Hidalgo,Sabu Martinez, David Byrne, Steve Turre and The Lincoln Center Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra. Looking at the above career summary, it would be easy to focus on the big names in the Salsa world. Doing so, however, presents a one-dimensional view of Marty Sheller and the musical influences that shaped him. As a young adult, he was passionate about the emerging music of Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Horace Silver and John Coltrane. When Marty decided to record an album of his own, he arranged and produced the entire project, choosing some songs by other composers and composing the rest himself. The horn players approach the songs from a strictly jazz point of view; it's the rhythm section that follows a Latin groove, but even within that they're playing with a jazz approach. In 'The Route 40 Flyer,' 'Love In A Mist,' 'El Pavo', and Wayne Shorter's 'Mahjong,' the typical Sheller use of Latin elements is implicit rather than explicit. There are no congas, bongos or cow bells (other than some tasty percussion overdubs by Steve Berrios) to make the Latin-ness obvious. Nor does the music employ the call and response forms and road map features of typical Afro-Cuban music (other than the piano vamp that Oscar Hernandez beautifully integrates into the final drum solo of 'Mahjong' ). What makes these numbers 'get over' with the listeners is not the externals of form or tone color, but the deeply bilingual musical roots of all the musicians. Playing Marty's music requires excellent reading skills and calls for strength in both mainstream jazz and in Latin rhythms and forms. The players are completely comfortable in this musical environment --- a testament to their 'open ears' and a tribute to their musicianship. 'I have known Marty Sheller for more than forty years. His depth of talent and skill did not surface for me until I heard this CD. Our tenure with Mongo Santamaria's band required production of material that would quickly be embraced by a large demographic, thus often filled with superficiality. Now Marty's skill and talent are fully unleashed and demonstrated in this recording. I highly recommend it.' Hubert Laws 'This is a great CD --- full of hip New York City shit --- that's the only way to put it! Wonderful playing and of course there's the unique Marty Sheller composing and arranging style which is still as fresh as it was 30 years ago!' Randy Brecker 'This recording reflects the best in Marty --- great music, great band, great arrangements and Bobby Porcelli sounds better than I've ever heard.' Sonny Fortune 'Marty Sheller is a musician's musician. Growing up in the Latin field, whenever I found myself playing a particularly hip arrangement, nine out of ten times it was Marty's. But quiet as it's kept, Marty can write anything...big band, conjunto Latin, straight-ahead jazz, you name it! And, like my father, do it all with grace, humor and brilliance. For this project, Marty has assembled the absolute finest Latin-Jazz musicians on the planet. The groove that the rhythm section of Vince Cherico, Ruben Rodriguez, Oscar Hernandez and Steve Berrios produces sounds effortless and inspired. The front line of Bob Franceschini, Bobby Porcelli, Sam Burtis, Chris Rogers and Joe Magnarelli is razor sharp yet filled with the kind of improvisations that combine pure imagination with technical mastery. This is a great CD from a master composer and arranger. May this be the first of many, many, many more.' Arturo O'Farrill.
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