“Djoel and Knippa”
U.K.-based trumpeter and composer Iwan VanHetten blends the sounds of his Caribbean heritage with well-honed contemporary jazz sensibilities on his latest recording, Parabbean Tales (Blue Canoe). And he does so in excellent company, recruiting members of the Yellowjackets past and present — saxophonist Bob Mintzer, keyboardist Russell Ferrante, bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer Will Kennedy — as well as bassist Melvin Lee Davis, percussionist Lenny Castro and steel pan master Andy Narell. The results are a sunny amalgam of jazz and island textures and rhythms, as heard on the lovely “Djoel and Knippa,” included here. Beginning with just trumpet and piano, the tune starts on a tender, introspective note before a shimmering tide of drums washes ashore. The piece then picks up its feet to a steady stream of percussion, with tantalizing keyboard touches evincing both jazz and tropical feels. Throughout, VanHetten’s trumpet rings true and he unleashes a dazzling solo toward the song’s conclusion, which winds down to just brass and keyboards — as it began. A longtime member of Sister Sledge and Brooklyn Funk Essentials, VanHetten shows off his seasoned chops and soulful writing on his debut release for Blue Canoe.