Sometimes the best part of interviewing a musician has nothing to do with the upcoming gig, album, tour, or other pretext for the interview. My recent conversation with Layla Angulo did cover the requisite topics: her impressive self-released live disc, Layla Angulo and Her Latin Jazz Orchestra: Live at the Triple Door; the band's upcoming return engagement; and her plans—she's enlisted several veterans of Paquito D'Rivera's band for a forthcoming album of Afro-Peruvian jazz.
Instead, I'm stuck on a tidbit that came up as she discussed her musical roots. "I find inspiration in the old school," states Angulo. "Machito, Dizzy [Gillespie]'s Afro-Cuban group, Paquito D'Rivera." Then she startled me by asking if I knew the tune "Things to Come." I hadn't listened to that classic in almost a decade, but I could still hear it in my head, so I gave a hesitant "yes."
Recorded in 1946 by an all-star big band led by Gillespie, the apocalyptic "Things to Come" still stuns listeners used to the bouncy, up-tempo bebop sides recorded by small groups led by Charlie Parker, Dizzy, Kenny Clarke, and others. "Things..." rampages at breakneck speed; quicksilver trumpets soar and skid around scurrying saxophones, cramming in a dozen solid musical ideas in under three minutes.
Angulo and I continued talking about the gig. I was pleased to find out that arranger Walter Torres and Costa Rican vocalist Carlos Cascante would still anchor the percussion section. Afterward, I put "Things to Come" on my CD player. Although stylistically separate from "Things...", Angulo's band's version aims for what Dizzy and Co. were doing a half century ago, which is make smart dance music that moves the mind and behind. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI
Layla Angulo and her Latin Jazz Orchestra play Thurs Mar 30 at the Triple Door, 216 Union St, 838-4333, 7:30 pm, $15.