Bob's Beat, L.A. Jazz Scene

L.A. Jazz Scene
August, 2001

by Bob Comden

Multi-talented musician Bob DeSena presented his Latin Jazz Ensemble at Lunaria's in July. He's been performing there every Friday night, turning Lunaria into a very lively spot, where people can come and dance to the music, if they want to.
DeSena is a very energetic performer, who has been playing at various clubs throughout the L.A. area. He can often be found at The Warehouse restaurant in the Marina and Lunaria's in West L.A. DeSena plays a multitude of instruments that include trumpet, flugelhorn, vibes, Latin percussion and he also does some vocalizing on many of the classic tunes that the band plays.

His group consisted of six very talented musicians, plus DeSena, making for a vibrant ensemble that plays classic standards and Latin standards with a very happy feel, which is just right for dancing. The group consisted of: Harry McKittrick-trombone, Joe Luna-tenor, alto, soprano saxes and flute, Joe La Mattina-drums and timbales, Rod Rozzelle-congas, Paul Perez-bass and Bob Sink-piano.

DeSena is also promoting his current CD, All That (Latin) Jazz on Dos Coronas label and will be working on his new CD, Going "Latin" on Jazz Street, also on Dos Coronas.

The set opened in dynamic fashion with a tune the great, late Cal Tjader peformed, "Alonzo," done as a mambo. DeSena uses a smoke machine to add atmosphere to the evening's festivities. DeSena's aggressive, high energy vibes solo got the spirit going on the opening piece as the band vamped behind him. Then each musician followed with some fine solo work. Luna on tenor, McKittrick on trombone and Rozzelle on congas all contributed impressive solos. DeSena rejoined on vibes playing the theme. The crowd loved it.

Freddie Hubbard's classic, "Skydive" was done in a cha cha cha feel, with DeSena switching to flugelhorn. Luna on soprano sax and McKittrick on trombone made up a front line as they played the theme. DeSena took the first solo with an aggressive stance, followed by Luna and then Sink at the piano. "Sabor," a Cal Tjader mambo was another lively piece, with DeSena back on the vibes. The tune showcased many Latin rhythm instruments. DeSena's wild vibes solo and smoke effects made for another exciting tune. La Mattina was in the spotlight with his fiery timbale playing. The band took the tune out in a very swinging fashion. This was a good dance tune. "killer Joe" was an easy jazz standard with DeSena playing trumpet, at times with a Harmon mute in to give it a special sound on the bridge. All the band members added strong solos, with La Mattina's driving drumming adding plenty of sparks.

"Tequila," another Latin standard, was a delight, followed by Mongo Santamaria's "Come Candela," with Luna playing a very pretty flute. The set closed with Dizzy Gillespie's "Night in Tunisia" which the crowd loved. For an evening of classic Latin jazz come check out DeSena's hot group and if you feel like dancing dont' be shy.

Bob Comden

Bob's Beat, L.A. Jazz Scene