The first album Montego Joe recorded as a band leader is a special affair. After playing with Art Blakey, Nina Simone, Max Roach & Abbey Lincoln, Aretha Franklin and others, the Prestige label offered the conguero the opportunity to assemble a band and record “¡Arriba! con Montego Joe“. As with many (jazz) records, the cover is misleading: the album does not offer the sounds of an overdressed man playing multiple drums on a tropical beach, but instead features an 8-piece band playing their own brand of latin jazz.
The band is made up out of players old and new, and combines traditional jazz chops (Leonard Goines on Trumpet, Al Gibbons on tenor sax and flute) with experimental young blood (the then 24-year old Chick Corea on piano, Eddie Gomez on bass and later spiritual force Milford Graves on drums). The results range from fiery latin jazz to spiritual voodoo soundtracks, and take in Brazilian music and a Horace Silver composition along the way. Great record, and perfect for the time of year… what are you waiting for?!