The departure of two key members of the Caribbean Jazz Project marks a new beginning for the Grammy Award-winning jazz group. VOA's Doug Levine tells us about the formation of an exciting musical alliance between Caribbean jazz and Afro Bop.

When saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera and steel pan player Andy Narell parted ways with the Caribbean Jazz Project, many thought the remaining members would call it quits. But, according to vibraphonist and marimba virtuoso Dave Samuels, who co-founded the group in 1993, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Samuels believes the Caribbean Jazz Project is bigger and better than ever.

Spirits are running high for their latest album, Afro Bop Alliance, featuring an Afro-Cuban jazz ensemble of the same name. It's a pairing of two Latin jazz forces that surpasses Samuel's goal of being "a musical tour of the Caribbean."

The Caribbean Jazz Project gets a little help from a lot of friends on its latest collection, Afro Bop Alliance. Longtime fans will recognize the album's nine tunes, previously recorded by the Caribbean Jazz Project, but updated with a broader range of Latin styles. Among the tracks is John Coltane's Naima, which first appeared on the group's 2002 Grammy-winning release, The Gathering.

Also included are new arrangements of works by Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and Oliver Nelson, as well as an original by Dave Samuels, dedicated to the late jazz drummer Elvin Jones, Five For Elvin.