WBGO Radar

Chris Washburne & SYOTOS: "Low Ridin'"

chris washburne low ridin album cover

Chris Washburne’s musical palette has an infinite number of colors he uses to achieve his artistic vision.

The trombonist holds a Bachelor’s degree in Classical Studies, a Masters in Third Stream music from the New England Conservatory, and a Doctorate in Ethnomusicology.

Add some internal combustion, and you've got a guy who can combine grooves from just about anywhere.

His vast array of ideas have brought him work with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Freddie Cole, Paquito D'Rivera, Tito Puente, Chico O'Farrill, Celia Cruz, Eddie Palmieri, and his own SYOTOS (See You On The Other Side) Band.

SYOTOS celebrates 23 years together with their sixth CD release, "Low Ridin'."

Chris calls his band’s latest direction “Acid Mambo” - Afro-Latin jazz on a psychedelic trip!

It's made up of the tunes he heard on the radio as a youth - the soundtrack of growing up in rural Ohio, not far from the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame.

Dave Mason, when he was in the group Traffic, wrote "Feelin' Alright." The song became a huge hit for Joe Cocker in 1970; Washburne & SYOTOS grab you right away with their version.

Trumpeter John Walsh and keyboardist Yeissonn Villamar join Chris's trombone for a new feeling... Alright! Listen for the song’s nod to Buffalo Springfield founding member Stephen Stills.

Then it's time for some “Low Ridin’,” SYOTOS’s update of a mid-70s song that was a dance hit for the group War.

The percussion section of Vince Cherico, Oreste Abrantes, Roberto Quintero and Isa Washburne lay it low, while saxophonist Ole Mathieson & Chris take us on a trip.

By now, you're on your feet. SYOTOS’s take on Bob Marley's Island anthem, "Get Up, Stand Up," will keep you there.

A bolero-cha version of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven" confirms this ain't no cover group dance band. The song’s haunting intro gives way to Duke Ellington's sacred music composition "Hymn" - a masterful mix only seasoned players like these could create. The group also takes Zep's Kashmir for a fresh spin.

"Manic Depression" by Jimi Hendrix morphs from a cha-cha into an all-for-one, uptempo improvisation. Jimi would've dug this.

Villamar's piano, anchored by Leo Traversa's basslines, make this song a keeper.

There's Neil Young's "Ohio" and "Sugar Mountain," both given spirited new colors from that palette I mentioned.

The Doors’ breakout classic, "Break On Through To The Other Side" is custom-made for a SYOTOS tune-up. A bossa nova in it's original form, Washburne has a grand time moving this track through to his other side.

The final track, "Syotomon," is an original by Mathisen. It conveys, Washburne says, "the transformation from ugliness to beauty with sounds that move and caress, allowing the listener to break on through to the other side."

"Low Ridin'" comes from Zoho Records on April 14th. SYOTOS celebrates the release – and their own long-haul ride - at Subrosa in New York on May 19th.

   - Gary Walker, WBGO music director

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