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Album review: 'Cuerno Exotica'


Ken Wiley

'Cuerno Exotica'

Krug Park Music

French horn may not be the first instrument that comes to mind when you think of jazz, but when played by Ken Wiley, it works beautifully. Wiley is a top Los Angeles studio musician who plays regularly on the soundtracks of TV shows like "Family Guy." But his reputation is so strong, he's been recruited to play with Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, the Charlie Rouse Quintet, and other groups. His fifth album, "Cuerno Exotica," is an adventurous, Latin-tinged treat.

The album begins with a five-minute arrangement of Ravel's "Bolero," featuring beautiful instrumental blends over a Latin rhythm. Punctuated by a hot horn section, the track simmers from start to finish. Another highlight is a fresh take on McCoy Tyner's "Sama Layuca." The musicians are too numerous to name but suffice to say, they are all on the West Coast A-list. As for Wiley's French horn as a jazz instrument, it's gorgeous on its own and equally effective when doubled with Dan Higgins's flute.