NICK ALI & CRUZAO Shades Of Brown (Justin Time) Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Energy is never in short supply in Nick Ali's world. The Toronto trumpeter loves skipping from style to style almost as much as he digs mixing it up with the jazz elite. Cruzao is one of a handful of bands Ali fronts, and it's perhaps his most diverse. Featuring a United Nations cast of musicians from Trinidad, Cuba, Peru and Mexico, Shades Of Brown moves from percussive Latin jazz to funk to samba to hiphop, often within the same tune. All of it, except for the awkward-sounding hiphop fusion, sounds natural and effortless, but given that much of the disc is built around the group's award-winning live sets, the driving mix would probably work better live in front of a crowd than in the sterile confines of a recording studio. Nick Ali & Cruzao play Lula Lounge tonight (Thursday, July 18) and the Beaches Jazz Festival Saturday (July 20).