"Sometimes words just get in the way..." That's Lee Vilensky's introduction to Dirty Dealings On A Latin Moon. Playing vintage sounds on vintage equipment with his bass and drums Trio, guitarist Lee is augmented by organ on three tracks, accordion on two and piano on one. With the exception of Guitar Gable's Congo Mombo the material is all original and in a range of styles. There's some infectiously rhythmic light jazz on Mayan Waltz #3 where Hammond organ sounds feature strongly and bassist Bill MacBeath uses an acoustic. He does the same on the laidback groovy jazz-blues of  Greezin'  as drummer Jamie Lease brushes along behind Lee's clean-cut bluesy solos and Pocket Pool  is another brushed light jazzer featuring Hammond.

After a jolly jumpin' Mexican Polka Party it's time to rock out with the nifty twang of Mexican Surf Party before the Trio lay down an exotic film theme groove for the title track. The Dredge has a Latin surf flavour with its glorious tremeloed chords and moody lead and is finished all to soon. Clamdigger has a swinging '50's rock guitar over walking bass and brushes while The Happy Clam has a taut Duane Eddyish lead and Mayberry RSVP  displays elements of Les Paul meets rockabilly. Quite a mix of influences then, but the warm tone of Lee's guitar and his skilful yet unflashy playing hold it all together for a satisfying half hour.  

Like an evening in a private nightclub
author: Symon
This is a great CD, and long overdue! I've been going to see Lee's band perform live here in S.F. for years, and this CD accurately captures the feel of a live set (my home stereo system includes a Denon amplifier that has a "jazz club" setting, which uses a reverb and tone profile to even further create this effect). Beyond the superb audio characteristics of the disk is the program list itself. The sequence of tracks flows along naturally like a live set, with the energy of the performances ebbing and flowing naturally, just like an evening out a nightclub. My only issue was that when I went to order a Manhattan, I suddenly realized that I was actually still in my apartment and not down at the Rite Spot. (I'm going to send one of these CDs to my sister in Philly, in order to try to confirm this effect.) YOW! -->S.

Lee Vilensky Trio 

Dirty Dealings On A Latin Moon

658 Records

Lee Vilensky’s website shows a picture

of his tattered ’53 Fender Deluxe

and a photo of about eight guitars –

including a Teisco, at least a couple of

Danelectros, and some obscured (and

possibly obscure) archtops – stacked

behind a Fender Reverb tank plugged

into a Danelectro piggyback amp.

Promising signs, or is he just teasing

us, jumping on the vintage bandwagon?

His CD’s opener, “Mayan Waltz

#3” (which is actually more of a 6/8

groove), immediately fulfills the

promise and turns off any “trendy”

alarms. Like almost any cut from this

all-instrumental outing, slide this into

the mix at a cocktail party and your

guests are likely to stop in mid-sentence

and ask, “Who’s that?”

San Francisco’s LVT was formed by

three Swingin’ Johnsons alumni – its

leader also formerly with the Hellhounds,

drummer Jamie Lease and

bassist Bill MacBeath serving time

with Queen Ida and Carlos Guitarlos,


So there’s plenty of roots cred, but

Vilensky also has a penchant for film

scores – “music that evokes a scene,

sound as a prelude to action or movement,”

he states in the liner notes.

Indeed, the title tango would work

equally well in a James Bond movie

or a sweaty, seductive scene on a dance

floor or in a penthouse suite.

Vilensky’s trio recalls the funky

side of Howard Roberts one minute,

a Mancini exotica soundtrack the

next – and exactly as the titles suggest,

a “Mexican Polka Party,” then

a “Mexican Surf Party.” For the CD’s

only cover, Vilensky whisks the listener

to South Louisiana to pay tribute to

Guitar Gable with a spot-on “Congo


It’s about as eclectic as you can get,

but Vilensky & Co. are no mere dilettantes.

This is the real deal. – Dan Forte

Lee Vilensky Trio

A groovefest of instrumental music that’s a little bit surf, a bit mariachi, and a bit jazzy. If Quentin Tarantino knew who this band was, they’d be involved in his next film.

My music tastes revolve around instrumental music.  As I listened to songs as a kid, I found myself enjoying the guitar solos more than the rest of the song.  In the mid-90’s I became hooked on surf music, in large part due to its instrumental nature.  This led to my radio show (since 2001) and podcast (since 2010), both specializing in surf music.  However, I tend not to be diehard surf music only kind of guy.  This brings me to the latest by the Lee Vilensky Trio, “Destination: Love”.    


Instrumental tunes have to be good to sustain listenership.  By good, I mean songs must have a melody to peak the listener’s attention.  Then the song must have enough variety and changes as to not become too repetitive and boring.   The song writing and playing must also be good enough to keep one’s foot tapping and avoid the temptation to hit the “next song” button.  The Trio has this down pat! 


When I first listened to this follow up of their 2011 album, “Dirty Dealing on a Latin Moon”, each song on “Destination: Love” was spot-on as it came to my criteria for truly good instrumental music as it takes the listener in wide variety of directions.   Besides the very cool melodies, varying styles and a nice assortment of instruments, the songs are just fun to listen to!  Most songs are in the two to three minute range, which is perfect for instrumental music.   


I have been thoroughly enjoying this album!  It’s a shame that the world of commercial music is so dominated by music with words.  For those brave enough to break out of that mold, this is the perfect album to listen to.     


Clint Beachwood 

“A Day at the Beach” - Podcast