JJ 12/93: Ronnie Cuber: Cubism & Airplay

Thirty years ago Mark Gilbert particularly enjoyed baritonist Cuber's focus on Latin American music, featuring Bobby Broom and Joe Locke. First published in Jazz Journal October 1993


Ronnie Cuber is perhaps best known as a leading New York ses­sion player of the seventies, but before that he played plenty of jazz with George Benson, Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, Eddie Palmieri and others, and in recent times he’s again been in the market as jazz player and leader.

These two sessions have com­mon ground in bebop, but the excellent Cubism leans more towards Latin music. Airplay towards sixties style Blue Note funk and bop. If time is limited, Cubism is the one to sample. The attractive presentation, lively material, colourful instrumenta­tion and fine soloing add up to a release which is inspired on every front. In particular there are superb contributions from Bobby Broom (featured in JJI October) and vibist Joe Locke, and fans of Afro-Cuban jazz should be im­mediately captivated by Cuber’s spirited 12-bar Arroz Con Pollo. In fact on several occasions on both records, Cuber the composer shows an impressive command of idiom, whether it be bop, Latin, funk or modal.

There’s less variety of style, texture and instrumentation in Airplay, and with Cuber’s solid mid-range baritone playing dominating the session, there is an occasional tendency to monotony, but there are plenty of good moments, not least from pianist Geoff Keezer and bassist Chip Jackson on Jazz Cumbia.

[Cubism ] Arroz Con Polio; I Ronic; Cubism; Cheetah; No Smokin’; In A Sentimental Mood; Barra-Cuber; Ponta Grossa (48.22)
Cuber (bar, ts); Joe Locke (vib, kyb); Bobby Broom (elg); Michael Formanek (b); Ben Perowsky (d); Potato Valdez (pc on Barra-Cuber only). NYC, December 28, 1991.
(Fresh Sound FSR-CD188)
[Airplay] Bread And Jam; New Orleans 1951; Pit Inn; One For Hank; Jazz Cumbia; Passion Fruit; Trane’s Waltz; Airplay (68.19)
Cuber (bar); Geoff Keezer (p); Chip Jackson (b); Ben Perowsky (d). New York or Denmark, April 1993.
(Steeplechase SCCD 31309)