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Beyond Salsa Piano - Instructional Series

Interviews & Reviews - CD Review: The Vibesman

CD Review: The Vibesman by the Mike Freeman Zonavibe
VOF 2011

Review by Bill Tilford, all rights reserved

This is the 5th recording as a leader by New York-based vibraphonist/flautist/percussionist Mike Freeman, who also plays marimba and kalimba on this Latin Jazz recording.  He has appeared on over a dozen recordings with other groups over the years.   All of the selections on this recording are his original compositions, and the overall vibe of this project has a nice Cal Tjader/Mongo Santamaria feel to it minus Mongo's pyrotechnics (with a liberal use of some excellent flute and tenor sax work). Much of the recording swings in the Afrocuban style of Mongo and Tjader, but one of the selections, Mongomarley, is an Afro 6/8 infused with some melodic inspiration from Bob Marley. Trolley Car puts the band in Samba mode.  The final track, Descarga y Voz, adds vocals to this otherwise-instrumental recording. 

The key strengths in this recording are the vibe/marimba/kalimba lines from Mr. Freeman and some very nice flute solos by Mauricio Smith Jr. that will appeal to charanga fans even in the absence of violins.  Jim Gailloreto makes a nice but limited appearance on tenor in Jigsaw Puzzle and So Long, Just Walking By. The rhythm section, while not particularly distinctive here, lays down a solid foundation for Mr. Freeman and Mr. Smith to shine.  

Recommended for fans of Cal Tjader's style of music and those who enjoy vibe and/or flute based Latin Jazz generally.   Something to put on when you want to chill.   

Mike Freeman's website, which includes a music store, is


Jigsaw Puzzle
Lucky 7
So Long, Just Walking By
Vibe Descarga
Too Groovy
Sahara Sunrise
Trolley Car
Vibe Descarga y Voz

Personnel for The Vibesman

Role - InstrumentName
Leader, vibraphone, marimba, kalimba, wood flute, minor percussion Mike Freeman
Bass Ruben Rodriguez
Congas, Bongo, Campana, Percussion Papo Pepin
Timbales Harry Adorno
Special Guests
Flute and Coro Mauricio Smith Jr
Tenor Saxophone Jim Gailloreto
Lead Vocal and coro Julio Salgado



Sunday, 19 May 2013, 11:16 AM